Can the News be Too New?

Posted on February 17, 2012


When trying to decide which news story really stood out for me this week, one that I would want to discuss for a blog, I found it hard to decide. I scrolled through my “News” list in Tweetdeck, where I follow such bastions of “the news” as @nytimes, @wsj, @cnnbrk, @bbcworld, etc.  I also checked out my “Fun News” list, where I follow the “tra-digital” outlets (@huffingtonpost, @slate, @mashable… I may have to re-name that list since learning about the tra-digital genre in class this week.)  But with so many tweets coming out in just the last hour or two, I wasn’t sure what the “BIG” stories were! It wasn’t nearly as obvious as last week. What news made it on the front page this morning? And am I ridiculously old-fashioned for even asking that question??

Twitter is an amazing tool for media outlets to update a breaking story as it is happening.  I’m thinking Virginia Tech, Japan’s earthquake, Gaby Giffords, et al. But not every news story has to have an update every 30 seconds to be valuable.  Some great news stories that get tweeted will find themselves buried under 100 other tweets from the same source in a matter of hours, let alone how fast they can be buried in our own news feed (depending on how many people/outlets you follow).  And if you “only” check your Twitter feed every two or three hours, that story will be long gone. That is why Twitter cannot be our only source of news, as it is becoming for many people.

Take for example this story, from a weekly column called “Fixes” in The New York Times. “Beyond SATs, Finding Success in Numbers,” is a feature article about a foundation that puts high school students into groups of five for their journey to and through college.  It’s a great, uplifting news story. And for those who rely solely on Twitter for their news consumption, there is no way they could have caught it before it disappeared into the abyss.

Quality journalism goes way beyond Twitter.  It’s challenging to stay on top of it all – in fact it would probably be impossible to stay up-to-the-minute on Twitter and check out each outlet’s homepage as well.  Is anyone else getting the feeling that “the news” is just cascading down around us and catching the valuable stories is becoming harder than ever? And this is the great Information Age – I, for one, am starting to feel information-overload.