Journalists write for many reasons, but one of those reasons is because we want to tell stories.
Stories are ways for people to understand each other, different points of view, cultures and lifestyles. Stories are a way to connect people.
But the articles that local newspapers and “20th century” news sources are producing are not necessarily giving us content we can connect to.
They are written in the standard inverted pyramid styles, with the lead and nut graf positioned and crafted to perfection. But they are giving us facts and delivering general news — a little something on everything. But they are not aiming to connect to a reader anymore.
The world has “grown up” since the 20th century and so has journalism. But news publications are lagging behind, stuck in the rut of traditional journalistic broadcasting and writing.
Our readers have grown and desire to connect to the news rather than just know about it. They simply don’t know how to with much of the news that is still being published.
Google’s newest commercial displays multiple highest ranked searches of 2015. “How can I help the refugees?” “How can we rebuild Nepal?” “How can we overcome prejudice?” “What does the confederate flag stand for?” “Are you born transgender?”
All of these searches desire to connect. The news stories tell us the story, and we do sincerely need the hard news coverage sometimes, but they don’t narrow it down to smaller stories that are understandable to the average reader; they don’t write in ways that foster public communication and discourse.
With Google, and other search engines, one is able to search any topic, question or idea and receive thousands and millions of connecting sites in less than a second. News sources receive some of that attention, but the questions people are asking are specific and tailored to a topic. Someone wants to know about something — and they will trust the “experts.” Media has not necessarily continued to gain any trust, so niche papers, niche magazines receive attention. These are the people that generally “know everything about something.” They cover one topic, and therefore know more than the average journalist who researches a new topic every time they have a story idea.
Readers are looking for things different that the “20th century” run of the mill articles. They are looking for something they can understand, they can restate and form an opinion. They want to simply connect.
A journalists job has always been to write for a reader, because much of the profit relied on subscription by readers. But that is not the case anymore. As journalists, we must also change with the times and see where our readers are going. They are going to another source where they feel welcomed and where they can gain knowledge, and where they can connect.