S.Q.M. (or Save Quality Media)
Editor's note: The column was originally attributed to the wrong author.
The classic "Back in my day…" elicits groans and eye-rolls from our generation, and contrary to common opinion, it is not because we are ignorant youth. Older generations don't understand how difficult it is to grow up in our time, the era of the Internet. Yes, all the information in the world is at our fingertips at any given time and everything is instantaneous, but maybe that's the problem. The Internet gives us more information than we could ever process in a lifetime, every second of the day. It is overflooding our generation with information, and ironically, it is making it harder to be informed.
There is a multitude of reasons that this phenomenon is occurring. The first is the shift from print media to broadcast media. Print before the creation of broadcast media consisted of about 100,000 words per paper, and now they average about 3,600 words. Less room for in-depth content translates into more superficial print. Although there is hope for in-depth stories in the limitless online media, it is dwindling due to the number of articles available. The Internet is much more purposive than print media. Each person has to intentionally search for specific news instead of a variety of the most important stories being decided and laid out for the public like it was with print. Older generations had prioritized news quite literally handed to them while our generation has to sift through millions of stories to find relevant information.
Another reason why this phenomenon is specifically occurring in America is because media falls under the control of the private sector. America's unique constitution states that the press cannot be controlled or censored by the government. Media is a business, and businesses need to make money in order to stay afloat in our competitive market. It is all about reaching the biggest audience, and to do so, media adapts to what the population (including older generations) responds to, and unfortunately, that is entertainment. That is why violence, scandal, disaster, and celebrity gossip overtakes headlines. Media has also become about speed. Turnover time is shrinking drastically and news companies are racing to be the first to produce new content. There is hardly time to insure quality and accuracy so the result is less substantive information and lower quality news.
These trends make it difficult to be informed in the era of the Internet. Instead of quality news being laid out for us, we have to make a conscious choice to find substantive stories. The good thing is that this is reversible. The media tailors to what we respond to. If we want more substantive news instead of Kardashian secrets, that is what we will get. If we decide that we want print media, more companies will print newspapers. Conglomerates will adapt to fit our desires because they need us. If we make a change, we could say to our kids, "Back in my day, I helped save quality media."
Reem Alharithi is a junior at West Linn High School.
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