Are we all news reporters?

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I was having a chat with my wife the other night about what news had become in the modern day. It made me slightly sad about what we have come to, when it comes to what we deem as news or newsworthy and how news stories are created these days.

What has the word ‘news’ become?

I can’t remember how we got on to the topic of conversation that we did the other night, but it made me think a lot about how we use the word ‘news’. The word ‘news’ used to have a gravitas about it, but now it seems social media has stolen the word news by referring to collections of friends posts on social media, as a ‘newsfeed.’ As a society now we seem to be more interested in what is happening on our ‘newsfeed’ than what is actually happening in the news.

I also can’t stand the way that a lot of news has changed now. Many articles seem to be written in order to be social media friendly or to appeal to the social media community. Even worse than this though, is how many news stories are being based on things people like you and I have been posting on Facebook. Somehow now what we post has been deemed ‘newsworthy.’

Social media runs the news

The news stories that seem to get better placed online are the ones people are posting about the most on social media. Rather than reading or watching the news and deciding what we think the big issues of the day are, the social media community are really stirring what we are having our eyes and ears drawn to.

All of this means is that in todays world, we are all news reporters. If you have a blog, a social media page etc. you can break news. What you write has as much chance of being news as everything else. What is for sure, is that in some ways it is not a good time to be a journalist. Well thought out articles are being lost against a tide of irrelevance. We are now in a quantity over quality situation, where it comes to things to read on the Internet. Sadly there is so much vying for our time and attention that we can’t find and read all the good stuff. I just hope as many people as possible continue to write clever and informative pieces and that one day they win out.

You will be amazed what happens next

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One thing I can’t stand online, is when articles or video descriptions have the words “you will be amazed what happens next” in the title. If this is in the title of something, I know that it is clickbait. The phrase just sums up what is wrong with SEO, copywriting for web and the rise of clickbait.

It seems that the web has turned in to a place where everything is the same. Where there is one right headline to make sure you get the most clicks and reads, so everyone sticks to it and does the same thing. It’s like there are magical words and phrases.

Maximizing impact

If something has a title that I can see has been written to maximize impact and encourage you to click, the more it makes me not want to click it. When I see a title like that, I know that the writer/website just wants me to click the link and what I link through to has a very low chance of actually being something of quality.

Titles and headlines like “you will be amazed what happens next” seem to have been written after someone has done some basic reading on psychology. The writers are trying to use words and phrases that they think will make you want to click. Words and phrases that still make you click even though you know you are being had and that you know that it is clickbait. Some may call it very clever, I just call it unimaginative.

If you can’t beat them, join them

I will be amazed when and/or if this way of writing ever ends, as I think we are doomed to it for quite some time. The pressure to get you the viewer on to a website for that website to make money is fierce and most companies are going with the adage – “If you can’t beat them, join them.” It seems everyone is so worried about losing out on a potential click that they are willing to sacrifice any standards in order not to miss them.

I know in all forms of art it is so hard to be new and different, as so much has been done before but it doesn’t mean we should just all copy what each other are doing. I want to read quality, I want to enjoy what I am reading and I want my time spent visiting a website to be good and worthwhile not an experience where I feel like I have been duped in to and one that I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on.

The thing that annoys me about Facebook

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The ‘Trending’ section of Facebook really sums up what is wrong with society, media and news. I never really give it much notice when I am on Facebook but will normally give the column a customary glance, whilst very rarely clicking on any of the stories. Over the last few weeks though I have noticed an ever-increasing tide of irrelevancy popping up in that section.

Like one the other day, I went on and one of the trending items was a famous person whose name I can’t remember wears bikini on a beach that I can’t (again) remember what beach it was. When did these things become a) news and b) worthy of our attention?

Not news

Stop press – someone wears bikini on beach – shocking! Where somebody is and what they are wearing isn’t news! Don’t get me wrong I am not looking for thought provoking, deep or investigative news on Facebook but this, really? If you want social irrelevancy, isn’t that what your timeline and newsfeed are for?

I am guessing to become trending it means that a lot of people on Facebook are talking about it but surely the reason people are talking about it is because Facebook pages with lots of likes are posting about it and spreading it round the world that way? I could be wrong but it seems the trending section is not organic and is just giving more publicity to what news and media companies want us to be talking about.

Substance

I know celebrity stories are always going to be popular and be a part of news, I just wish the stories had more substance. News headlines shouldn’t be made purely on what a famous person is wearing and where they are when they were wearing it. Today I am wearing jeans and a hoodie, which isn’t newsworthy, but if a celebrity was caught out of the house wearing jeans and a hoodie someone would be reporting about it somewhere in the world, it would then be put on Facebook and everyone would know that vitally important update.

I think Facebook would be better served to have an editorial that gives a range of the subjects that matter to people on Facebook, not just what the most talked about or read post is. Don’t like starting my week with a rant but I have wanted to write about this for a little while now and am glad to have it off my chest.

My writing is now available in more places

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A little while back on the blog I alluded to new opportunities that had arisen for me and I can now tell you about one of them.

I am now a writer/contributor for a new exciting news outlet called “The News Hub.” It is an interesting place, where writers are incentivised to write engaging, quality content and a place where the community plays a huge role in governing the site and makes sure the best written and most relevant articles are easy to find.

Opportunities

I have been running this blog for two years now. It started as a place for me to share my thoughts and showcase my writing. Through my commitment to writing on this blog it has led to many exciting writing opportunities, including writing for other sites, apps, social media, other people’s books and my own book.

I have made no money out of this blog and in terms of traffic not hit the numbers I thought I would but this blog has done so much more for me than I thought it would. It has given me a platform to express myself and formulate my own thoughts. It has given me chances to experiment and work on what makes a good article. Most of all, it has kept me passionate about writing and active as a writer. To get good at something it takes practice and repetition.

Validated

I now feel validated as a writer because of the opportunities that have come my way and the people that have wanted me to write for them. Blogging is a powerful platform and there are many similarities in this new world between a blog and an article, with the lines between the two becoming more and more blurred.

One thing I would say to any other bloggers out there is – never under estimate the impact of your blog and your words. Impact can be measured in so many ways so don’t just think of it as number of viewers to your blog. Go after engagement and not views. Advertising and promotion can bring you views but it is good content that gets you engagement. It is better to have a small engaged audience than it is a big unengaged audience.

I hope everyone who reads this blog will follow my progress at “The News Hub.” To view my articles go to:

https://www.the-newshub.com/@adamsibley