Cover what counts

News outlets shouldn’t just focus on stories that will sell a product

Erickson is a junior journalism major and Managing Editor of The Spectator. He can be reached at [email protected] or @NickErickson8.

Story by Nick Erickson, Managing Editor

Let me start this by saying I am a media man through and through. As a young journalist, I think people who deliver breaking news are nothing but vital in society.

But as a media man, it pains me to see the struggles publications and stations everywhere have to balance delivering news of all kind with delivering news that will gain readership, viewership or website hits.

It’s undoubtedly a challenging time for every journalist at every level, as a change in media culture has led to news outlets scrambling to stay afloat financially.

But the direction a few prominent media corporations are going with news coverage, more of a Buzzfeed type of approach to things, is not the long term solution to gaining readers and remaining credible.

Recently, the tragic and mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Flight 370 caused me to reevaluate the priorities a lot of supposed top-notch organizations have and what kind of a journalist I wish to be.

And let me say this, I am absolutely not knocking down the severity of Flight 370 and how sad it is for the members of the families. It is also a huge deal to find out exactly what happened to the plane since there are still questions of whether or not this was simply an accident or plotted out by a group of people.

However, every 30 minutes it seems, I feel a little buzz in my pocket with a notification from my CNN app that they possibly found something in the Indian Ocean, and then they didn’t, and then a certain group of supposed experts from the United Kingdom confirmed it went down in the ocean and on and on and on.

And then after I get a notification essentially about how no progress has been made in finding Flight 370, I get another about how Oscar Pistorius sobbed so hard the court had to adjourn for the day.

These two stories are human interest stories, I get that. A missing aircraft with possible links to terrorism and a high-profile athlete on the verge of going to jail make readers pick up papers and viewers tune into television.

But look at everything that’s flown under the radar in the midst of these stories. For example, a huge pile up after a landslide in the state of Washington killed 33 people as of Monday, according to the New York Times.

Or how about the Supreme Court decision last week removing limits on campaign finance laws, essentially allowing individuals
or organizations to donate as much as they want to a certain political candidate.

Now these are the things people need to know. Monetary donations to help those in Washington would I’m sure be greatly appreciated. Sparking conversation and debate about the campaign-finance law would only strengthen the way political funding is dealt with.

But less people in the general public are aware of these events, and in my opinion, it’s really not entirely apathy that’s the problem. Major news outlets aren’t doing a good enough job getting these stories to the masses.

You see celebrity gossip and human interest stories rock the tabloid racks at grocery stores and other similar places.

That’s what people see, and it’s time for media to at least look for an alternative way to generate traffic and money.

If society is going to move forward, it has to informed on all of the happenings in the world, not just a few items that peak interests more than others.

As someone entering the industry, I challenge my fellow young journalists to take a chance, change the culture and re-emphasize the extreme importance of our profession.