- Wed Dec 08, 2021 3:45 pm
The quality of many articles that pass for news today would be characterized as tabloid by the 20th century news standard. They're chock full of opinions and polarizing language designed to incite strong emotional responses. Not all of them are this way of course, but there has certainly been an erosion of standard and a preference for sensationalism in those that once were considered prestigious publishers. A typical structure of such a news article can be summed up as consisting of four parts. First and foremost, an article or a "news story" needs to have a catchy click-bait title to pique the interest of the browsing fish. It needs to entice and titillate the senses, typically with a picture, wriggling that emotional worm on the hyperlink hook. Once the fish bites, the second part comes into play; The "abstract" or the opening paragraph that is meant to provide a summary of the story. At this point, the reader may realize that she has been duped as the paragraph does not adequately reflect the sensational title and accompanying image. Then again, she may have the patience to read on past that "summary" and have a go at trying to trudge on and see if there's an actual story here. This is the third part; the body of the article. It may be composed of several meanderings, a few ramblings, and irrelevant fillers but the hope is that the journalist would eventually get to the point as you start to scroll and skim faster and faster down this long-winded abyss. As if at the end of Dante's journey into the inferno, she finally beholds the last paragraph of this hellish descent. The fourth part of the article, the conclusion and closing remark. Perhaps there was a point to the article and perhaps this final paragraph will give you the answers you seek! You'd be wrong though. It either ends abruptly or it gives you yet another irrelevant information that has little to do with the title.
But at least you saw a few targeted advertisements for the things you were recently talking about in your kitchen. And maybe you feel good about supporting a news outlet that aligns well with your moral compass. It doesn't matter if it's not proper news, because now you can say that you're "informed" among your peers because you made an effort to at least understand the article. You're at least a reader, somebody who engages that part of the brain requiring higher functions, even though comprehension was not achieved in this time-waster. But perhaps you're just too dense to understand it. Maybe other people are smarter than you and you just don't appreciate the person's writing. No, there's a limit to this. A "news" article is not supposed to be an incomprehensible nonsense written as if by a baboon with a ballpoint pen lodged between its cherry red cheeks. It is meant to inform, give you the pertinent information, and to impart to you the answers to the seven question words - who, what, which, when, where, why, and how. If it can give you these without losing the interest of the reader, then the article is well written, and it is not your fault for not being able to understand the "style" of the writer.
Thankfully though, there are plenty of other media outlets that can interpret, decode, or find the actually relevant coherent material and provide the necessary answers. The reliability of those media groups however ultimately comes down to trust and perhaps that trust can only be applied for certain subjects, or the stories must always be taken with a grain of salt. It would be nice if there was a condensed form of news repository where those seven questions are concisely summarized so that they can be sifted through quickly. That would save time and allow the reader to be able to deep-dive only when necessary, rather than having to invest in so much wasteful hunting across news sites.
Judge not lest ye be judged. But if you must...
Judge the tree by its fruits. But remember to...
Wash the beam out of your eye with soap.