Frankly speaking, I don’t follow the news very well. This made it quite difficult for me to find news sources that match the three options. I tried to search the stereotypical/obvious: I looked up pop culture news for an example of a news source that is beneath me, and went on sites like Politico and the Guardian for the liberal-Millennial-targeted news story. Just with this search, I utilized a marker of news source category: news type. We all do this when we come across digital news; if the title and news site seem fitting for us at our age/social group, we click on it. (Could this be part of why people look towards the same biased news sources–the expectation of reading something a certain way?)
While there are many various markers of news “level,” the main one seems to be the theme/topic and tone. So, in looking through articles on the different news sites, I decided to stick with one subject: our POTUS, Barack Obama.
- A news source that is pitched towards me: “An angry Obama puts himself on the ballot”, Politico.
This article is about a Trump-related portion of the speech that Obama gave at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner. This is already fitting towards my cliched but true demographic of being a liberal, semi-educated Millennial that loves to hate Trump. I’ll admit–my knowledge of politics and the elections is very surface-level and media-driven, so this article, in a tone that suggests an assumed united support for Obama and distaste for Trump, is easy to read and swallow. The message is also about race, another hot topic amongst people like me. It’s the perfect mix: a political topic that makes us feel informed, but simple and entertaining enough for us to be engaged and understand.
- A news source that is beneath me: “Barack Obama Lets Michelle Have the Spotlight at the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner”, PopSugar.
The name of the site and article title already give an impression that this news source will be “beneath me”. The other article had a political message, while this one is half about Obama’s love for the First Lady and half about her dress. The message is unsophisticated, but fun to read because of the playful and lighthearted tone. I’d be lying if I said I would never have read this article if it wasn’t for this assignment, but I definitely look down on pop culture articles and don’t consider it “real news”.
- A news source that goes over my head: “What’s Behind Barack Obama’s Ongoing Accommodation of Vladimir Putin?” The Intercept.
At the top of the ladder is this article about Obama’s foreign affairs and relations, a subject I’ll admit I know very little about. The article actually seems quite interesting and easy to read for someone who is more politically knowledgeable and interested, because the language and tone are light and matter-of-fact; however, as someone who is probably less informed than she should be, much of this is read without retention or comprehension, and that tone seems to make exclusive the group that does understand.
I write with a playful self-deprecating tone here, and to be fair, the level gaps of these articles aren’t huge. However, there are also other formal markers of level or category at work. The lengths of the articles and paragraphs themselves are usually telling of how difficult it’ll be to read. The vocabulary, syntax, and the use/presence of jargon for the topic is another indicator: the Popsugar article uses much more casual, “hip” language (“sweet shout-out”) that anyone who speaks English could understand, while the Intercept article uses political jargon and references other political events and issues in it that only those informed could follow. All of these aspects add to the feel and theme of the articles that ultimately decide whether a person reads that article or not. Can’t blame anyone for that.