Shifting News Culture

The smell of a clean cotton-scented candle wafts through the lobby of the Detroit Free Press Building. The shiny granite walls and floors embellished with what looks like flakes of gold lead to elevator doors. It’s nearly 10 o’clock, as students pile out of the elevator, and into the office for the daily news meeting.

I really enjoyed this field trip. Sitting in on the Detroit Free Press’s news meeting generated a lot of good conversation, not just about the content being published by the Free Press, but about the culture surrounding news too. For example, Ashley noted that our generation is skilled at reading news, because we’re used to the overabundance of information that the internet provides. We have learned to sift through tons and tons of news stories and determine which ones are truthful and accurate, which make us sophisticated consumers of news. Perhaps this recognition and awareness of today’s media culture pushes the Free Press to put out really high quality pieces.

The conversation had today also made me think about the difficulty of getting people especially our age to read the news. I thought that Levi had a good point about the types of stories people our age would be interested in, those that challenged power. Especially for college students, in school we are trained to practices critical thinking. Therefore, news stories that don’t just focus on the story but take a critical thinking approach could be of particular interest to us. For example, one of the writers didn’t seem to think that the central student government’s divestment resolution was a very important story. However, as Levi pointed out, while reporting about this story, one may also take a critical thinking approach that examines the power dynamics of university officials and students, which would be nationally and (internationally) relevant. The cost of this, however, would be excluding readers that might be less educated. In any case, this conversation made me think a lot more about what angles news stories can take and strategies to engage as many readers possible.

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One Response to “Shifting News Culture”

  1. Rae — I’m glad you enjoyed the discussion, and that it gave you new perspective on why and how traditional news organizations struggle to engage a younger audience. I’m thinking that the Detroit Free Press journalists were doing cartwheels and cheering after we left because you, Levi and others highlighted your interest in stories that challenge power. That is the classic, cherished role of traditional news organizations that would be hardest to replace if those news organizations disappeared. Cindy Burton, one of the editors at yesterday’s news meeting, referred to this idea as “watchdog journalism,” which is a popular term.
    Here’s a discussion of watchdog journalism from the website of a well-known journalism nonprofit.

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