Don’t forget about old school journalism

Reading and watching short pieces of news might be a quick way to see what’s going on in the world, but a snapshot can’t give you the whole picture.

A piece of news that is low-quality and attention seeking is often described as a hot take. The hot take is a part of a growing culture of storytelling in the media that is not entirely based on fact, but rather focuses on increasing readership rates by disregarding truth to produce provocative journalism. Whether it’s in sports or in the political sphere, the amount of hot take shows and articles being produced has spiked in the last couple of years. 

One of the major results of the transition towards short articles and catchy headlines in news media is that news outlets and writers are forced to adapt. Consequently, fewer and fewer pieces of long form journalism are being published. There is currently a shift in digital media towards capitalizing on page views and clicks. As a result, organizations and outlets have diluted the marketplace with hot takes instead of more in-depth news stories.

While I do value the writer’s opinion and think there’s merit to this approach to journalism, there’s also something inherently wrong with it being presented without the whole story. By focusing on potentially controversial opinion rather than on truth, the media has lost the essence of where the story is — not with the journalist, but with the people affected most.

For example, in the sports world, on April 29th ESPN laid off 100 of their journalists who were focused beat writers and researchers to pour more resources into their TV shows that rely almost solely on opinion.

Changing this trend is hard — I myself watch these 2-3 minute clips on my Facebook feed all the time. The thin line between entertainment and journalism has become blurred by attention seeking-opinion segments on news stories.

Whether it’s in sports or any other form of news, it’s important not to forget that journalism is critical to expanding the conversation on issues prevalent to those around us. When an outlet breaks a major piece that covers a controversial topic, the story is more likely to become part of a national conversation rather just a headline we scroll past.

While this form of journalism might be able to hold my attention, it can’t fill the void left by the lack of unbiased, in-depth reporting. Honest, unbiased and fair stories do what no hot take or short video clip can do — present the facts, both sides of an argument and leave the judgement in the reader’s hands, rather than force feed it to them.

Opinion pieces do have value; they allow viewers and readers to analyze different perspectives of a story as they happen. But we’ve started to perpetuate a culture of debate as our primary means of news-gathering, oversaturating the media market.

In a time where people are shutting journalists out, having our own personal opinions is more important than ever.

Joseph is The Journal’s Editor in Chief. He’s a fifth-year History major.

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