Welcome to 2021; vaccines are in, Trump is out and lockdown is still here. In a mid-pandemic world, we can’t help but wonder how the present climate has affected our daily intake of news. With serious FOMO, current affairs – as an interest point – has most certainly taken centre stage. The news provides us with a connection to the wider world, beyond our four walls, and gives us a much-needed sense of perspective.
More interestingly, how we process that news is changing…
Not Your Average News Story
As a nation, we suddenly pivoted from our daily routine when Lockdown 1.0 forced the vast majority to work from home last March. Gone are the days of listening to the radio on your daily commute or reading The Metro on the tube. Now, we start the day with a scroll through Instagram, and end it with a TV briefing from the PM, or whichever politician’s turn it is (is there a rota?).
TV, social media and apps have become our main sources of information. Just think how many people rely on the BBC News app and it’s incredibly dramatic ‘Breaking News’ notification. The sound is more anxiety inducing than the news itself.
Take to social and check out The Know on Instagram; a news account focused on daily, bite-size news pieces which aim to inform, but also inspire change. Whether via their Stories’ swipe-up feature or ‘explainers’ on their grid, the user is encouraged not simply to read but to take action. Plus, it’s not all doom and gloom. They make a concerted effort to cover the bad, the ugly and… the good, with positive news stories being shared, also.
Talking of positivity, open up TikTok and have a browse of Max Foster’s profile; a British CNN reporter who with 234.3K followers delivers regular witty news flashes.
Finally, there’s Facebook News – a ‘page dedicated solely to building a more dependable and relevant news experience’ on the platform. A classic example of modern-day, social-first news distribution.
The Dark Side
As with most things, it’s not all roses. With mass online reporting comes exploitation and a lack of regulations. Furthermore, media outlets are losing out.
Did you hear of the recent Facebook vs. Australian scandal? The social giant put in place restrictions, which barred Australian users from sharing or viewing news content on the platform due to a new proposed law by the Australian Government.
Eventually, the Australian Government and Facebook came to an agreement which allowed commercial newspapers to continue to publish on the platform. However, it was a pretty ballsy move from Facebook and one which didn’t go down well. There’s even mention that Britain and Canada will follow in Australia’s footsteps and face up to Facebook regarding media outlets’ new content on the site.
Another issue is the now renowned #FakeNews, whereby false or misleading information is presented as legitimate news. With the potential to severely damage a reputation, it’s become the antithesis of honest reporting, aka Trevor McDonald circa 1998.
In recent times, social media platforms have made an effort to crack down on ‘Fake News’ by taking additional measures, such as heightened monitoring of content and more transparent labelling when it comes to the post’s author.
Who knows what direction we’re heading in, but there’s no doubt that the last year has only expedited the natural trajectory of news, which is online. The trick will be to keep it honest, reputable and rewarding to all… those who read it and those who write it.