Can You Really Have a Balanced “News Diet”?

Libraries and I have a love-hate relationship.

I love the way they smell, I love the silence. I love walking through the tall aisles and reading the book spines and touching the aged pages.

What I don’t love?

Along with having access to seemingly endless amounts of information

Courtesy of Flickr.
Courtesy of Flickr

comes the realization that only a small fraction will be uncovered by me – there simply does not exist enough hours in any lifetime. In turn, this realization produces many emotions – none more prevalent than feeling overwhelmed.

I would also argue that “overwhelming” could be an accurate adjective used to describe any microblogging platform. A stream of seemingly endless amounts of information that is presented, unlike libraries, in a way that communicates each post is urgent, pressing, of dire importance – which ultimately leaves the consumer feeling daunted by the task of nourishing their “news diet.” It is a constant struggle to stay relevant, stay informed, or stay “full.” It’s the realization that only a small fraction of my Twitter feed will be uncovered by me since there simply does not exist enough hours in any lifetime to uncover it all. 

Is microblogging an effective way to disseminate news? Yes. Is it an effective way to consume news? Kind of. Is it sustainable? I’m not sure. These questions were what I continued to ask myself as I scrolled through my various social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instragram – all of which I participate in heavily).

By capitalizing on the microblogging platform, news outlets can reach millions of people quickly – a pace easily matched by competitors. In order to keep this competitive edge, media rivals rely on the quantity of material being produced, which inevitably compromises the material’s quality. It leads one to question: Are we consuming news that is of value? How many listicles can Buzzfeed pawn off as important before someone calls their bluff? If the Washington Post has over 4 million followers on their Twitter page, why does their follower engagement pale in comparison? How much crap can the Times churn out before we begin to question their front page? 

If our “news diet” begins to “metabolize” so quickly that we’re unable to absorb the proper nutrients, we run the risk of becoming malnourished.  

Having a healthy “news diet” is no longer a choice – you won‘t get a “leg-up” on your competition if you have one, you just simply won’t be competition. The “leg-up” comes from stepping back to recognize the flaws in a system your competitors are too busy trying to satisfy. Acknowledge that your readers are human and produce material that they’ll want to engage with – not just be content with reading a headline. Give them a chance to digest your writing before you demand they read more, like more, share more – understand the system you work within and adjust accordingly.

You want followers because you lead.   

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