About That Book

I think I should finally discuss my class’s textbook: The News About the News: American Journalism in Peril. Keeping with my recent cheery mood, and suitable for the nice-enough-for-March weather, I’ll say what I like for now. Chapter Three has definitely been one of my favorites (probably my absolute favorite–but I’ve yet to finish the whole thing, so I’ll try to keep hope). It’s titled “News That Makes a Difference”.

When I decided to major in journalism, I told myself I’ll write anything for anyone whenever I can–but I will never write for a tabloid. Most written material matters in some way, big or small, for entertainment or exposure and everything in between; but tabloids are distinctly worthless. I don’t care who’s pregnant or gaining weight or losing weight or getting married or getting divorced or suing the paparazzi–things like that happen to normal people every day (except that last item). Celebrities frequently aren’t worthy news subjects; when they are in the news they should be doing something so exceptional a normal person would be equally exalted or abhorred for doing the same.

As the chapter explains, not every big story is Watergate-level scandal–sometimes it’s something interesting (and a bit suspicious), like Scientology becoming tax-exempt. Journalism can dig deeper into subjects normal people don’t get to experience on a daily basis–or maybe it’s something we all experience on a daily basis, but never think about until it’s shown in a different light–exemplified in the well-known article on ketchup (main point being: there’s a hundred different flavors of mustard, but only one ketchup–excluding the mistaken foray into green & purple varieties in the ’90s, but let’s pretend that didn’t happen).

I want what I write to matter. Somehow. To anyone, even one person, a little bit. And the first person my writing should matter to is me. Because if I don’t care, I can’t make anyone else care. So here it is, in writing, my promise on making my work matter: I will never write bad tabloid articles. I will write about anything else in the world, because anything else in the world will matter more.

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The Past is the Future–Sort Of

The Internet might be the world’s largest recycling bin. But things never come back exactly as you leave them, so perhaps recycling factory is a better descriptor–or recycling plant, to use proper terminology (and a great pun).

Old viral videos have a habit of resurfacing every now and again to make (and remake) the news. The same rumors appear periodically (see: Super Moon, Morgan Freeman’s death, et cetera). And old Internet staples come into use again.

For instance, .gifs. They’re silent moving pictures on a loop, introduced in 1987. They fell out of use as emoticons and flash pictures and other forms of expression became popular on the evolving web. In the past few years, .gifs have made a comeback. Why? It’s not really clear. How? Reddit and Tumblr can perhaps be to blame–or thank–as these users seem most fond of these clips, and use them to express emotions (or “feels” to use terribly inane ‘net speak). Buzzfeed also seems addicted to these old school pics, and every item on their endless lists is illustrated with¬†at least one, maybe two if they’re both deemed apropos, or complement each other well.

Another old Internet fad being raised from the dead? Blogs! Well, “dead” may be a bit strong. Blogs have been in fairly consistent use over the past decade or so; the matter is what they’re being used¬†for. A while ago blogs were adapted by everyone–businesses, writers, (some) media sources, angsty teens. Slowly but surely, through the early 2000s, angsty teens took over the blogosphere on sites like Xanga, Blogspot, LiveJournal, DeviantArt. As social media has come into play, many of these blogs can still be found, especially on Tumblr. But blogs have been coming out of their emo-phase funk and are emerging as viable business, promotional, and media opportunities. Not the teen journal-ridden places they once were, blogs might just be the future of writing on the internet.