Engagement

Fake news, do they have a place in the media landscape? Why are we so appalled that it even exists? 

Even people who work in academia, in public policy, people who are part of the media industry love fake news. And I don’t mean obvious fakes and satire like on The Onion. I mean fake news that’s masquerading as journalism.

Some people don’t know if it’s fake. Many don’t even care. It’s entertaining. It’s mind-blowing. It’s so sensational! And so these pieces are shared, and reshared.

Does it really matter that it’s fake? 

When I think about the state of journalism, I think a lot about the movie Anchorman 2. 

“Why do we have to tell the people what they need to hear?” Ron Burgundy says, as he’s thinking of a way to increase viewership on his segment. 

“Why can’t we just tell them what they want to hear?” And that’s exactly what he starts doing. 

It’s so mind-boggling to me that the same people who complain about “bad journalism” when it doesn’t suit them also use “news articles” to prove their point about something. 

How journalists afraid of not being able to find work comment positively on news pieces that are so glaringly fake. 

I think it’s hilarious when people complaining about a certain article, share the link to that piece on social media. And then have a whole conversation with multiple people in the comment section of the post. 

Engagement, is engagement. 

Attention

While many may get their news on Facebook, my preferred choice for online reading material is newsletters. 

From curated lists like For the Interested to long-form feature articles in The Hustle to short tips in Growth Hacking Idea, my inbox is my personal newsfeed. I get emails on journalist jobs, writing submissions, new books to download.

Considering the amount of email newsletters I’m subscribed to, I definitely don’t have time to read them all. And I don’t. 

I select. And the rest goes into Trash. 

The issue with any kind of medium is that they are all competing for the same thing — attention. 

Every individual has the same amount of time in any one day. 24 hours, that’s all. And every media company is begging for just a fraction of those 24 hours. 

(If you’re taking the time to read this blog, thank you!)

The people who are only now starting to say that media is in trouble are late to the party. I’ve been told that journalism (and by extension, media) was dying since I was in university. 

“It will evolve,” I said to anyone who asked me then. And I still believe that it will. 

Anyone who creates and shares any sort of content needs to recognise that their audience’s time is valuable. What can a reader take away from your content? What value are you adding to their lives? 

If you have an audience, don’t take them for granted.