There is always news. Regardless of how newsworthy particular information is, newspapers have to put out the morning paper. No matter how little or no news there is, we’re still going to get “the news” every day.
Every so often, the newspapers resort to banal gossip pieces for the front cover (if they’re the New York Post) or featured investigative reporting that isn’t necessarily timely (if they’re the New York Times). This happens when there really isn’t anything major to report.
Now imagine that, rather than a daily release of news that hits your doorstep every morning, it’s every few hours or every hour or all the time. A never-ending printing press. Welcome to the Internet.
Take a look at these old Techmeme headlines. It’s a page full of news from May 2009, but really it isn’t news. It’s just what’s being talked about at any given time in the constant 24-hour information stock exchange that is the Internet.
An often-cited reason for the looming downfall of newspapers goes something like this: “the Internet blew away the Old Media’s monopoly on information.” Yes, we can get news instantly, all the time and from an endless array of sources. But the Internet did something else to the news. By putting everyone on a 120MPH highway, it left very little room for value judgment and discretion around what is or isn’t worth talking about. Take a look at any highly successful blog or new media source and you’ll find 50-100 posts per day. If Samsung comes out with a higher capacity battery for one of their mobile phones, Gizmodo is going to write about it.
The collateral damage isn’t so obvious but it’s undoubtedly there. Amidst my 400 unread Boing Boing links are probably ten or fifteen that are probably real gems. But I’ll never know and Boing Boing sure as hell isn’t going to help me out. The strange irony here is that the end result isn’t more information, it’s less. Instead of wading through the 400 posts, I simply ignore them all. I just try convince myself: “the good stories will somehow find me.”
These days, they’re finding me less and less. Someone needs to package it up for me on a daily basis. Maybe deliver it in a nice readable form every morning…