NEWS HAPPENS! In Praise Of Hyper-Local Media

Has mainstream media unwittingly bought into the age-old, ancient Roman practice of bread and circuses? The role of media is to inform and educate, but sadly this duty may be slipping.

There was an era in America, where to be well informed on all that happened, one only had to walk out to their driveway each morning and retrieve the morning paper. To those wanting an additional fix for news, there were evening papers.

Sadly, those days of bucolic simplicity are long gone. Now news never sleeps, and neither should the media machine.

Unfortunately, more and more of what we see from major media is an endless repeating cycle of news. Much of which may not really matter as much as some think it should.

Sports and entertainment have become the dominant feature of nearly every news outlet. Critical issues are repeatedly rendered to being buried somewhere deep within a news website.

No more do we get daily hard hitting headlines, prominently splashed across the front page. We've grown used to and content to see a football score as front page news. A man dying a senseless death, not so much. We'd rather not know.

In deference to those of us who still like our news hard and straight, the media will obligingly produce a story, but do everything in their power to minimize it's impact and placement. Other than the day a crucial local story breaks, if you want to find it later, good luck. Site layout and story positioning certainly doesn't make it easy.

The short video accompanying this story chronicles an interesting part of my morning. To be honest, already behind on so much work, I had no plans today to write. Two articles and a short video later, all on the same subject, I find the muse inside me is a relentless taskmaster and she won't let me stop. 

My original piece on this was first published at my virtual media headquarters, The Baltimore Spectator. While sites such as Patch, and my own are here to serve the public with relevant news and information. With our fractional budgets and nearly nonexistent staff, there's only so much we can do.

For a person intent on being truly well informed of things that matter, the best advice that can be given, is the same that you'd give to a student performing research. Advice which is a cardinal key to good journalism. Check multiple sources.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

ALan Z. Forman November 27, 2012 at 03:44 PM
You are correct of course, however sports headlines and fan frenzy in America go back at least to the days of Babe Ruth and Jim Thorpe if not before. Even the ancient Greeks had their Olympics and the Romans had their gladiators, which, I'm betting, garnered bigger headlines in antiquity than Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C. It would be interesting to find out if Ted Williams got bigger press in the summer of 1941 when he hit .406 -- the last ballplayer to break .400 -- than Hitler when he conquered France a year earlier.
A F James MacArthur November 27, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Totally understand the context your painted Mr. Foreman. It really was that way, but that was before the flow and delivery of information became democratized. Now that anyone can produce news, and there are millions of places to get it, things have changed big time. Newspapers are no longer the primary source of news they once were. They have to get a tighter focus and specialize in doing what others do, or they'll soon be extinct like the telegram. Eventually the telephone took over.


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