Gone are the days when a trusted news anchor would appear on my t.v. screen at 6pm sharp, and I in my kerchief and papa in his cap would hunker down for a long winter’s viewing of the day’s newsworthy headlines.
First of all, I don’t own a t.v. Second, according to Lewis, Holton, and Coddington’s article “Reciprocal Journalism” (2014), I don’t find as much value in a one-way stream of didactic dialogue as I would in a more reciprocal environment. AKA the comment section below a news article online.
I simply can’t read their article without constantly stopping between sentences and saying something to the effect of “man I wish that was true!” in my head.
Because I do. I do wish it was true that simply allowing for more exchange and communication between news gatherers and news consumers would lead not only to increased engagement, but also renewed respect and appreciation for the journalistic craft.
The problem is that engagement actually looks like this:
The viewer engagement sought by news agencies consists of audience clicks, likes, shares, and participation in idiotic polls about the true nature of Anderson’s candle’s aroma.
The very articles that these click-happy readers consume are crafted and distributed based on statistics and algorithms that belittle human intelligence and basic norms for what is, in fact, newsworthy.
And worst of all? The catching millennial notion that the really important news will simply bubble up to the top of my newsfeed.
What kind of lazy, entitled expectation is that? If reciprocity is reinforcing the notion that news is what my friends are talking about, then I have to step back and protest.
News is not the Holderness family and their adorable Christmas jammies.
News is not Kim Kardashian’s full moon on the cover of Paper magazine.
Yes, I have shared links to both of these examples. So any algorithm can assume that these stories are important to me. I hate that I click, and yet I do. But I don’t want these links to be interpreted as newsworthy simply because I viewed them.
To make the idealistic version of a reciprocal and community-minded news gathering and disseminating society outlined in “Reciprocal Journalism” a reality, we must find a way to overthrow the maddening and all-pervasive power of algorithms that indiscriminately prioritize our interactions on the mere basis of clicks.