Journalism Goes Hollywood

9 Sep

 Although it is a couple years old, the article “Look at Me!: A writer’s search for journalism in the age of branding.,” by Maureen Tkacik, is quite fascinating.

 Tkacik describes how journalism, thanks largely to the Internet, has devolved into coverage of trivialities and gossip. It is probably more prevalent today than when it was written. Tkacik’s description of the kind of things that go on behind the scenes shocked me. At times, it reminded me of reading Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” and its revelations about the meat-packing industry. The concept of the “Nothing-based economy” is a fantastic description of the current state of the industry. Journalists are more interested in covering gossip that increases online traffic, than covering serious news stories.

 It is a scary thing to think that this is what’s driving journalism now. It is no wonder that America’s students have seen their test scores in subjects like math and science swiftly declining. In many aspects of daily life, I can see these same principles at work. Television channels that used to cover educational material, like the History channel, have been succumbing to the increasing trend of reality television. It’s hard to find anything educational on television now. Journalism seems to be following this same trend of appealing to the masses. This is a truly scary road to follow. Appealing to the masses doesn’t lead to innovation, because the masses are not highly educated, on average. Basing your economy around this, as we are seeing in journalism and television, hinders progress. Once companies see that doing so leads to greater profit, however, they are incentivized to continue producing the same product.

 I was not aware that this kind of thinking had crept into journalism quite so much. This is something that must be changed before it overtakes the system, and nobody knows anything of importance. This was, quite honestly, the most interesting article I have read in a long time.


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