The President of the United States and his opinions matter, but Trump’s opinions on subjects like the Oscars are not exactly critical to public debate nor are articles on whether or not he sounded Presidential during an address to a joint-secession of Congress. In fact, it might be argued that a highly-polished speech that panders to the political class, which is what most Presidential speeches to a joint session of Congress or any other political group do, has little value outside of what policy agenda the President might choose to pursue. This is particular true when that speech lacks actionable policies and/or there is a lack of sufficient support from the Legislative Branch. At any rate, most of what the President says and does is not important enough to flood the headlines day in and day out, yet the news continually features coverage about the President that is far from newsworthy.
With that in mind, the opinions of political figures like former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush matter. Selectively highlighting their dissent from the current President when it comes to issue like Trump’s war on the Press and illegal immigration is, however, an obvious attempt to use news events to rationalize the presentation of the views of the journalist writing these stories and the news outlets publishing their articles. It is, therefore, essential to ask what makes news actually newsworthy as well as whether or not the stories professional news outlets present actually offer anything of value to the public. After all, there is a vast difference between news coverage, which sparks constructive public debate, and propaganda that pushes the political views of those who happen to work in the news industry. Because journalists, editors, and other “experts” determine what is newsworthy, it is also useful to ask what criteria writers and editors use to pick a newsworthy story.
In the sciences, a great deal of important research goes undone. The scientific research done is research that is important to researchers and those who provide the funding. The same is true when it comes to news coverage. Consequently, the news is filtered by those in the news industry. When this writer and editor selects a topic to write on, I select news events based on whether or not I can add something constructive and valuable to the conversation surrounding the event or the broader issue. Although I am trained to engage issues with a high degree of objectivity in a transparent and balanced fashion, due to my scientific background, I ultimately select a topic, because I believe there is something important that needs to be said that is not being said. My objective in selecting specific stories to discuss is to provide solution-driven analysis and thought-provoking commentary; whereas, others have difference goals..
When looking at editorials, commentaries, opinion pieces, investigative reports, or press releases, the topic is chosen, because someone in a newsroom believes it is important enough to draw the attention of the public or the story is considered valuable. Thanks to search engines, what news people want is easily known. For those reporters and editors who feel newsworthy is anything they can sell, i.e. what people want, chasing the top picks and trending news is enough to make something newsworthy. Although this approach draws eyes and hears to publications, which translates into ad revenue, this is why social media is decimating the traditional news industry. Because news is a public service, what criteria a news team uses to determine if a story is newsworthy determines how valuable that news outlet is to the public. If the top criterion is how well the story is trending, that news outlet is not going to provide a valuable public service.
To some extent, all news outlets must cater to their audiences and take notice of trending stories. After all, news outlets are businesses, which cannot succeed, or survive, without strong revenue streams. On the other hand, news outlets must establish their value as sources of information and public discourse in addition to establishing themselves as valuable advertising platform. The only way of doing that is building their audiences by performing a public service for their communities and/or extended audiences. They must focus on what news is actually newsworthy, which means explaining why news matters to the audience and discussing the issues surrounding the news events they cover. It requires mission-oriented news teams comprised of professionals seeking to provide a public service.
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