No news is not always good news


There’s an old saying that “no news is good news.”

While this may be true to a degree, there are small, inherent dangers in having a slow news week. Namely, bringing up old and irrelevant issues. Sometimes it feels as if the news is an old married couple. When the program runs out of things to talk about, they simply bring up a problem from the past and attempt to beat a dead horse further into the ground.

During slow news weeks, it seems like a lot of “experts” are brought on to the famous cable news networks to talk about everything from the validity of gay marriage to whether we still have a terrorist threat in airports — a topic that has been discussed (and mocked) for 13 years.

The other problem that arises is “creating” news. The biggest story of this week was that Kim Kardashian posed nude in a magazine. That’s it. That’s the whole story. There’s no value in that other than bringing more attention to someone who makes no difference in society.

The only good to come of the photo-shoot was that the always sarcastic internet took hold of the images and mocked them through various memes that ridiculed the celebrity.

I guess I’m just looking for in-depth news that brings lesser known issues to light during times without an obvious crisis. Will it happen? Not as long as news simply operates under the mantra “give the people what they want” and not “give the people what they deserve to know”.

Let the teams decide who’s best


There has obviously been a lot of controversy in the news lately about everything from Ebola to athlete conduct. Something has been rarely talked about however, is the new college football playoff system.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea. The Southeastern Conference is not as dominant anymore as teams from all across the nation begin to land top recruits and coaches. There’s more of an even playing field. Every conference gets an opportunity to prove its worth.

However, there are a couple things I am not thrilled with. The sportscasters seem to lose their minds every week whenever a team gets upset. All they can talk about is how it will affect the playoffs. They need to relax and actually analyze past and future match-ups because, as we see literally every year, it all works itself out. The cream rises to the top.

The other issue will be the post-season fallout. If one team gets blown out in a game, the entire year’s conversation will be about how undeserving they were to be in the playoffs and how they didn’t play a strong enough schedule. This will affect the playoffs for years to come because analysts will reason that since one conference was destroyed in the playoffs before, history will repeat itself. This leads to an imbalance in conferences once again and the cycle will repeat.

Gives other teams a chance.

Satire shouldn’t be our only news source


Midterm elections are finally over. The Republicans now control both the House of Representatives and the Senate. While this isn’t really a problem, the way that the news covered the elections was abysmal. It seemed like the only thing that the news cares about was how the president was going to get along with Congress if Republicans won the majority. Policies and state legislature seats seemed to go unnoticed by everyone—everyone except the big three satirical news shows: “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” and “Last Week Tonight.”

While these shows bring significant amounts of laughter to millions across the nation, it is a little sad that they seem to be the most legitimate news source at times. They seem to highlight the true issues of the elections in a way that people want to watch. I will admit that due to the fact that “Last Week Tonight” airs on HBO, John Oliver has a little more leeway to peel back the layers of politics without worrying about angering sponsors.

However, that is an issue in and of itself in other news organizations. They are so afraid of angering candidates that would pay money to put advertisements on their channel that they don’t ever delve into the real issues of elections.

Satirical news is fantastic and entertaining, but it needs to be balanced by true, in-depth journalism that pulls no punches.

The true killer in America


Public health has been in the news quite a bit lately, mostly due to the Ebola “scare” that has captivated Americans’ attention. Previously, of course, it was the swine flu and the bird flu.

However, everyone, including news organizations, seem to ignore the true threat to American health: Our food. The American diet is quite literally killing people and no one seems to notice or care.

Yes, everyone knows that McDonald’s is bad for you and that pizza won’t give you six-pack abs, but no one is talking about the loopholes contained within food that is generally considered healthy. Whole wheat bread can actually be chemically separated and put back together in order to sell more cheaply—with high fructose corn syrup added as well. This syrup suppresses insulin in your liver and therefore inhibits your body from knowing when it is full. Therefore you eat more.

So what? No big deal right? They have pills that can help with diabetes and coronary artery disease. Unfortunately, pills cannot cure these problems, they can only help symptoms. No news organization is investigating as to why that is the case. Pharmaceutical companies have billions to lobby with and do not want people to know the true cure: Eat like a caveman.

In clinical studies, a lifestyle and diet change was 40 percent more effective at treating diabetes than the most successful medication. Those with type two diabetes who adopted the Paleolithic diet (eating only what a caveman would eat as it came out of the ground) eliminated the disease from their body in a week.

We owe it to ourselves to be healthy. It needs to start with awareness via brave and insightful journalism.

Jameis Winston is a person, too


This weekend’s Saturday night football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Florida State Seminoles drew a television rating of 8.5, the highest of the season. This beat last year’s Florida State versus Clemson game by 130 percent.

Obviously a top 5 match-up between these two storied teams will naturally draw attention, especially due to the playoff implications. However, the massive ratings boost came largely due to ESPN’s coverage of the polarizing Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston has been in the spotlight recently and it isn’t because of his Heisman Trophy or his ability to win, it’s because of his off-field troubles.

Winston has come under fire for multiple allegations beginning with his alleged rape case in 2012 and most recently for allegedly taking money for autographs.

It is safe to say that ESPN has had a lot to talk about, but the analysts seem to be becoming biased. The sentiment among the masses is that the ESPN panel loves the SEC and wants to see Florida State fail so that they can tear into the FSU quarterback more while also touting the greatness of the Southeastern Conference.

I feel that fans need to understand that every time ESPN shows a picture of Winston in his FSU uniform, they are advertising for the school. Winston is undefeated in his past two years as the Florida State quarterback. That brings positive attention to the school despite his off-field antics.

The point is this: Winston is innocent until proven guilty and although Florida State may not have handled his investigations in the most timely or thorough manner, he should not be ridiculed by the media simply because he wins.

Whether he committed either crime that I mentioned above, I cannot say. What I can say is that it is unfair for the media to will Jameis Winston to be a criminal just so that his football team can lose. It’s just a game.

News should be for everyone


The local television news is suffering. I’m not entirely sure what happened to it, either.

Out of a 22-minute newscast, it feels like 20 of them are reporting “who was killed where?” To me, that isn’t news at all. The newsworthy part is whether or not the person who did it is still loose or in custody.

I think it is more than a little ridiculous that, when someone is killed, reporters interview the family about how they feel. Obviously they are all upset, but their loss does not have an effect on the majority of the community.

I will admit that this sounds incredibly cold-hearted. However, in my view, local news should be spending a lot more time on the policies of local government or reporting about the status of small businesses in the area. These are things that concern everyone living in the area of the broadcast and should be treated as such.

Taking the time to explain everything to the community can only help in the long run. The policy that “if it bleeds, it leads” needs to change, at least locally. This also goes back to fear mongering. It makes people believe that the community is in worse shape than it is in reality. I’m not saying that the news should absolutely ignore crime news, but I am saying that it shouldn’t take up the majority of the news.

There needs to be a higher standard.

Fear mongering in news out of control


These days the news seems to be consistently telling us that we should all be afraid for our lives. I’m surprised that people aren’t running around and panicking in the streets due to the reports of all the things that can (and according to the news, will) kill you.

Fear mongering has gotten out of control. The most recent example is that of the Ebola virus. Every day a new story emerges about a new person who is sick or a new area that is a hub for infection. Meanwhile, the most amazing aspect of the entire “outbreak” is being entirely ignored. Both Americans who were infected and brought back to the United States for treatment were given some substance that entirely cured them of this formerly incurable disease.

No one is talking about this story because healthy people aren’t interesting or newsworthy to our society. Fear keeps eyes on the screen. It almost seems like the news is trying to scare people into staying in their homes where they can be “safe” so they will watch more news.

The other nasty pitfall that comes from fear mongering is that people won’t actually realize when a major issue emerges. If everything is an emergency, nothing is. When a real crisis arises, people may ignore it and then unknowingly put themselves in danger.

I hope that this trend comes to a halt, but as along as people keep watching the news as it is currently, there will be no reason for the networks to change.

Focus on the news, not on yourself


As anyone who has been following the news recently knows, the Islamic terrorist group ISIS has been a major focus for the United States. Recently, the U.S. began bombing ISIS and has received help from many other countries including Iran. With all of the commotion surrounding this terrorist group, the common thought should be “what else do we need to do as a country?” Unfortunately, this is not the case.

News organizations from both the right and the left have shifted focus almost entirely on President Obama. It seems that the news has become 10 percent “here is what is happening” and 90 percent “here is how I personally feel about it.”

Of course, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional opinions and expert analysis, but it is ludicrous to have a panel of news anchors that seem to know everything about everything. Too many talking heads simply creates noise and confusion, especially when it is essentially professional complaining.

For situations like this, no abstract examples are needed. No one needs to ask: “Well, what if ISIS somehow found a way to infiltrate the United States and take over the Capitol?” That is thinking infinitely far ahead about an improbable situation.

However, this is not to say that some journalistic opinions can be beneficial. They simply have to have enough respect. In the most famous example, Walter Cronkite stated a negative opinion about the war in Vietnam and changed public opinion about the conflict almost overnight.

Unfortunately, the days of journalists with the respect Cronkite garnered are all but over. If the news is ever going to return to its former glory, the noise needs to be cancelled out. Sensationalism needs to disappear and facts need to once again reign supreme. Until that point, speculation and biased opinion will rule the news.

Native advertising: Killing the free press?


With the gradual shift of news from the traditional hard-copy paper format to online journalism, advertisers have found it much more difficult to reach readers.

According to a study done by the Rich Media Gallery, banner advertisements on websites are clicked on purposefully only 0.17% of the time. Now, in an effort to increase the viewing of advertisements, companies have turned to a strategy known as native advertising. It is a strategy that essentially takes an ad and disguises it as a news story.

Native advertising has many journalists worried that the news industry as we know it will die. Independent journalism could nearly vanish if other companies are able to interject their advertisements into real news stories. The popular website BuzzFeed is notorious for this. One hundred percent of its revenue comes from “branding content.” This means that there are articles such as “9 Ways Cleaning Has Become Smarter”… sponsored by Swiffer.

Arguments have been made that “as long as the reader knows the difference between a news article and native advertising, there shouldn’t be a problem.” However, less than half of readers actually can discern the difference because the entire point of the ad is to disguise itself as a news story.

BuzzFeed is not the only website guilty of utilizing native advertising. Even The New York Times ran a “story” on women’s prisons that was really a promotion for season two of the popular TV show “Orange is the New Black.”

Finally, there is some fault to the reader here. The best way to get rid of native advertising is to start paying for online news, but it seems that no one is willing to do that because the Internet is just too convenient.

Obviously, no one really what the full extent of native advertising will be just yet. Only time will tell. Hopefully, the days of a free and independent press in America are not over.

Clickbait changes news … for worse


The world of news has certainly been changing rapidly with the onset of the Internet.

Unfortunately, I would have to argue it has changed for the worse. This is mainly because of a phenomenon known as “clickbait.”

It is nearly impossible to scroll through a Facebook feed these days without seeing a headline reading something like “You’ll Never Guess What These Guys Found While Digging in their Yard!” That’s clickbait. That’s also a real headline. The “crazy thing” they dug up was an animal bone. With a headline that provocative I assumed it would be a lost monument or an ancient artifact.

Of course, the entire reasoning behind clickbait is to gain website hits. The more hits a site gets, the more advertising money it receives. It’s an understandable business strategy, but sensationalizing mundane stories that can hardly be called news causes more important matters to be ignored. The reason true news stories get lost in the depths of the Internet is twofold: their headlines either aren’t “intriguing” enough to merit a click, or they are simply drowned out by the sheer number of sensationalist news websites.

One such website, Buzzfeed has become so notorious for this, that noted faux news source The Onion created an entire website called “ClickHole” to mock it. It is both funny and sad knowing that if you put the sites’ respective headlines next to each other without the domain name, it would be impossible to tell which was real and which was fake.

Internet news has simply become “who can write the most eye-catching headline” instead of “who can write the most accurate and compelling news story.” At this point, it is impossible to tell if the internet will reach a breaking point with clickbait, but for now it reigns supreme. I can only hope that this is another trend that will fall by the wayside and that true news will return as king once more.