On reflection of real-time journalism

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We are living in an era with heavy information traffic. A prosaic example would be that Floppy Doe got off his shower and found out a snippet of breaking news glaring on his cellphone, Maybe not the type of news that his puppy was shot dead when fetching newspaper in the mailbox. Well, it could be breaking news if he is the head of a veterinarian association, just like what had happened to one of the swans belonging to the Queen Elizabeth of England.

A college student myself, I am aware of the pain to keep myself up to date with the news media at all times. Even during rapid transits on campus, an overheated atmosphere which teaches me a run-or-you-will-be-late mentality does little to honor a habit to check news consistently. However, I have cranked up a recipe that helps me better absorb clusters of information on the air.

First, no matter how wide it’s your reading spectrum, always take advantage of the breaking news feature available on an array of news sources. It has become a sensation in the past few years for news organizations to build this media superhighway to reach their audiences in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I regularly subscribe to the breaking news listserv of the New York Times and CNN. Throughout years of my experiences with these two news sources, I have found the importance of cross-examination across these media. Just like defendants in criminal courts had to stand for cross-examinations at times, news organizations par excellence are subjected to readers’ discretion as well. My rule of thumb is that if these two news media powerhouses are presenting disparate facts on the same subject, there are bound to be some clerical errors made by one, or even the worse, both organizations.

Second, information posted on social media is presumably unreliable until one makes further confirmation. “T.J.” Lane, 17, the perpetrator of recent a school shooting in Ohio who killed 3 and injured another 3, was said to have written a Facebook status that detailed a fictional story mirroring his murderous motive a few days before the commitment of crime. No independent source after his arrest, if ever attempted, had confirmed the authorship of that post. I read that status which was said to be allegedly written by Mr. Lane. The writing was evocative and not without a trickle of poignancy. The post could have, one may say, reflected the true feeling of Mr. Lane, but a deeper analysis would not erase the possibility of a post-processed machinery, which could have been done by either people he had known, or simply, a cyberspace aggressor.

Third, establishing a pyramid of news organizations in terms of their trustworthiness is the key to sounder judgments on readers’ side. Media History has told us that due primarily to the funding channels and ownership nature, news organizations are qualitatively highly variable.  Depending on how multi-taste a person you are, you may find local papers more appetizing than national ones. Media diet is just like food diet. Some are vegetarians favoring light topics, such as health and metropolitans; others are carnivores who rejoices in news that galvanizes peppery exchanges of readers’ opinions; yet others capitalizes almost on everything, those who may have learnt that impartial curiosity makes them more fitting for this diverse society.

The last book I read was a History of Israeli-Palestinians Conflict by Mark Tessler. A comprehensive tome on descriptions and analyses of this hot-potato issue in the Near East, it expanded my horizon undeniably on the understanding of the subject matter, and the content helped me build a more personalized modus operandi on this orphaned political conflict.

My leisure readings during the recent years have been tailored to cater my career interests. A ethnical minority by many standards, I have become emphatically interested in the lives of Jews since two years ago. My career goal is to become a news writer in Jerusalem for the New York Times. I also fostered a tender interest this year to get in touch with the bureau chief of Israel for the Times paper, Jodi Rudoren. According to her bio on the Times, she was elected one of the 50 most influential Jews in media in the “Forward 50” for her outstanding contribution for the Jewish community around the world. The media personality effect  has rekindled my interest and driven me to explore deeper.

I have come to believe, after years readings on international politics and foreign affairs, that names are selling points in the newspaper. The more I read about certain themes, the more likely I would recognize those who appeared in the paper. For example, it would be a overkill to ask me who was the supreme leader of Iran in charge of the religious affairs and diplomatic arm-wrestling a few years ago. But now, I would unmistakably visualize this weathered Muslim wearing an oversized zebibah(head bump) at all occasions of theocracy-based political speeches. The answer to this one, if you are wondering, is Sayyid Ali Khamenei,known in the West as Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. To many westerners, this name may sounds very outlandish. However, Mr. Khameini has been one of the most vocal, or some would say, transcendental religious enlighteners in this Shiite-dominated nation pro tempore. Maybe you would gripe in the back row about the purpose of knowing such trivial information, because it does not sound like a million-dollar question. However, being on-call journalists, it is a fair play for us to have some rudimental knowledge of these newsworthy personalities. To further complicating the task, the cast of big players in the media coverage on politics changes periodically at times of political transitions. Even as recent as eight years ago, people may barely have had any encounters with Barack Obama on the media, because he was a senator in Illinois back then, But now, he has become one of the best-known political leaders with a full-fledged career profile across the globe.

Have you ever thought about how important are quoted names in the newspaper? Without them, no attributions on file and no stories breathed into life. The media uses names so frequently that they became representatives of citizens’ voices. In this expanding news market, everyone who lives in an open society, perhaps not Ariel Castro in this case, stands for a equal chance to be quoted. Can you imagine a future time that your name appears on the Daily Collegian or something bigger, maybe the Philadelphia Inquirer?

To boil this down, your media diet is your personal preference. It is based on your hobbies, everyday interests and not the least of all, your set of complex personal identities(The Sikhs as a people were not well-known in the presence of American media until the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin over a year ago).If you happened to be one of those Sikhs living in the Great Lake area, you would have had this news, and you might have been eager to know more about the socio-economic standing of Sikhs in America after the occurrence of such a tragedy.

If you have made through your way to this point, congratulations. I don’t think much of I have talked were gibberish, and even if some were, you have to remember reading news could also be a humdrum task at occasions. The feeling of romance with reading news did not come at your birth but requires hell-bent patience to inch closer.

Where your romance lies?

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One thought on “On reflection of real-time journalism

  1. Hi Harry — I want to highlight (for everyone) one of the points you’ve made in this post: the idea of “cross examining” the news accounts. The idea is right, but in practice, it is less legalistic than that. The term I like is to “critically reflect” on the news, which means not to criticize, but to carefully evaluate what you hear and read, then decide how it fits into your life/world view/etc. Sometimes it changes what you think and do.

    A good way to accomplish this is to read different sources about the same event and think about what is different and what is the same — and try to figure out why. We’ll do some of that in class this semester.

    Lori

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