The news has a bad habit of disseminating some stories with urgency, conveying a sense of national importance, only to over-report it for a couple of days and never speak of it again. The BP oil spill? The June 2008 midwest floods? Even Hurricane Katrina. These events affected many people and their surroundings, in some ways permanently. However, the average media consumer (read: drone) would struggle to remember such events shortly thereafter their prominence in the news cycle shortened.
It is almost as if stories lose their novelty to the media outlets, as if the people in Iowa saw the billions of dollars in damage disappear over night or the people in Louisiana suddenly had their houses back six months after the fact. Even other stories fall victim to journalists who write and publish frenetically around the clock, only to be talked about a few weeks down the road, if ever again. That debt ceiling debate sure seems to pop in and out of the national eye. One week it’s the end of America as we know it, but the next week you don’t hear a word.
I think blogging can help fix this problem with today’s news stream by taking the topic of reporting out of the hands of executives strapped for resources and into the hands of the people who are affected most by prominent issues. News firms understandably operate under a lot of pressure to obtain viewers and sell papers; they have other motives than just reporting the news. That’s fine, but I think Americans need to stay up to date with the stories that matter. A nationally significant story one week should not leave their purview the next because ABC has moved on to what it thinks are bigger and better things. Although it is easy enough to watch the news everyday and forget about yesterday’s headline, I think inattention to the larger picture of complex issues and reporting without consistency is a problem.
Blogging provides a spectacular opportunity for ordinary people to keep others caught up with the stories the media feel are no longer up to snuff for national coverage. Real people with a firsthand view of the issue are able to report to the rest of us, without needing a shiny desk, flashy jingle, or makeup artist. It is no longer the case that people rely on one source for their news. The advent of the blog permits it to be now covered by anyone anywhere. So while their story lost the 5 o’clock breaking news story last week, the people affected by the event, who didn’t see their problems disappear with the headline on Fox’s website, can keep the rest of the country posted on what is going on. Someone by the Gulf can blog about what the conditions are like from the spill, or a Habitat for Humanity worker can report on the natural disaster that struck his area a few months ago, which people are still recovering from.
Bloggers have the ability to allow us to skip the fanfare of media outlets and get to the bottom of what’s really happening. As long as bloggers report with high standards, one of the most important forms of writing, news coverage, can regain its commitment to stories and dedication to those affected most.