No News Is No News

One of the issues in not watching television, as my favourite co worker Stan points out, is that you miss ads. Which is fucking awesome for the most part except that people often talk about them. On more than one occasion I’ve been caught out where friends have turned to me as the one studying advertising and I’ve not had a clue as to what they’re talking about.

Ads, it would seem, remain a popular conversation topic. Music is another, which despite the fact I don’t listen to radio, strangely hasn’t affected me. The biggest issue that I am suffering from, is news.

With the massive decrease in the consumption of traditional media, myself and many of my friends tend to be less informed about news and current affairs.

And the only real reason this has become an issue is because it’s a popular conversation topic among peers that I can’t always join in on. But other than that, is this a big deal?

For the most part, news programs have become commercial, vested interest vehicles of entertainment anyway. And as tragic as it was, is the death of four teenagers in a car accident really something that I should be concerned about?

Instead, democratically, the most important and the most interesting news finds its way to me. This means I receive a lot less unimportant news, yet the big stories, like an natural disaster leaving many in need of aid, are made aware to me through platforms like Twitter. The jet skiing squirrel does not (I use Digg for that).

Overlooking the fact I work (using the word lightly) in advertising, is it an issue that the next generation will be less informed about many of the ultimately pointless day to day news?

No Comments
  • Tom
    Posted at January 21, 2010 10:35am, 21 January Reply

    I think it's a case where this generation has more choice over the content that is fed to them. For example, I don't watch the news or listen to radio bulletins anymore. All of my news is primarily through web based newspaper content (The Age, The Guardian), or other incidental sources scattered across the web. As a result, I read about big things (Haiti, bushfires, etc), tech, sport and amusing/stupid/funny stories.

  • Rick
    Posted at January 21, 2010 10:35am, 21 January Reply

    I don't think the fact that you don't watch the Channel 7/9/10 news is a problem. They're crap anyway.

    There's plenty of other way people get their news. If you're just avoiding ads there's ABC news (much better than the commercial crap anyway). There's the radio, there's newspapers, there's the internet. Soon we might all be checking the news on our Apple iSlates (or whatever they call them).

    I check a few times a day (depending on what I'm doing that day) to see if there's anything new of interest to me. I don't have to waste my time on the stories of no interest to me, either.

    The serious issue here is if everyone starts getting their news from blogs and twitter feeds then real journalism will suffer…

  • nat
    Posted at January 21, 2010 2:03pm, 21 January Reply

    Good question Zac.

    I have always thought that murders/car crashes are not news but gossip – yet they form such a large part of tradition news media. So, in that sense, I don't think not consuming newspapers or TV news is a big deal.

    BUT – the positives of TV/Newspaper news is that they tend to be produced locally – city/state/country – and can play a significant role in fostering real communities (you know, suburbs/local, rather than being friends with someone online because you both like the same band). Yes web-communities replace these communities in some ways, and it is important to be up to date with major world-wide affairs, but I think it is also important to know what's happening and be connected to where you live etc. There is a reason why every small town has its own newspaper.
    So maybe you should read the Preston Leader!

    (the paradox to all this is that television has been statistically proven to be the number one factor in the reduced participation of the population in civic activities, volunteering, community organisations etc over the last 60 years. YAY TELEVISION!).

  • techydude
    Posted at January 21, 2010 4:18pm, 21 January Reply

    i never really got into local newspapers, and once missed the local elections because of it – oh well. i gave up radio in the car as a bad joke years ago, only podcasts or music since then.

    i haven't watched commercial TV news in more than a decade. now with a DVR i half/background/skip-watch the ABC News, 7:30 Report, 7PM Project, 4 Corners etc, *if* i'm home that night & feel like it, otherwise i skip them entirely. having a DVR & IceTV EPG has highlighted to me how little i watch the commercial TV stations at all (for anything, not just news).

    for the last decade i've got most of my news from various corners of the internet, and lately pointed to it by Twitter.

    but i'm seriously concerned about the plight of journalists & journalism (but not their current employers who've squandered a decade to adapt), particularly "investigative journalism" that uncovers serious shit under our noses. that's all changing, and no one knows to where.

    maybe you're smart enough not to drink n drive, but there's a bunch of people right now who wish a few kids had been smarter – and that story is just this week's latest example – it happens all the time. if *some* news medium can get important stuff out to those who need it, like "stupid" young kids needing a serious dose of "this is what happens when you act like a bloody idiot driving a car", maybe there'd be a few less majorly grieving people – kids & parents – today. & i personally would REALLY prefer not to be sharing the roads with such idiots.

    there's also a lot to be said for the serendipitous discovery of "new stuff" that comes from being spoon-fed stuff that isn't necessarily on your "i want this kind of stuff" list/filters/sources.

    the "trick" that we havent discovered yet is how to filter this torrent of news – systematically, ubiquitously, easily, across all mediums – to be suitable for the individual – transitionary times is an understatement.

    but once this is sorted, and the 'new' generation will likely be the first to embrace it, i think they will be more and better informed than any generation previously.

  • Simon N. Reynolds
    Posted at January 21, 2010 6:23pm, 21 January Reply

    Quite true that, in fact I hardly ever watch TV…
    I have had the whole "have you seen that ad" conversation a couple times and all the decent ones I have managed to see on the blogs…

    As for news, for me and I'm sure, many others, my news consumption lately is limited to the top pane of

  • threebillion
    Posted at January 22, 2010 7:22am, 22 January Reply

    Am I sure this one of your more controversial posts, however I've bitten, so here we go:

    1. You seem dedicated to a life in advertising. The best people in advertising know everything there is to know about ALL media. Eschewing traditional media is fine as a consumer (of any age), but definitely not fine as a specialist in media and advertising. Just in the same way the old school ad guys are been knocked about by this new digital media thing; the new school tech savvy guys are lacking the knowledge and insights of the traditional world. Balance is the key.

    2. News. The best advertising people are the ones that understand the world, what's happening in the world and WHY it's happening. Advertising is at the very pointy end of any business and business are defined by local, regional and world events. I'm not going to discuss the state of Australian news media, apart from the fact that you haven't had a good start in life. Spend 5 minutes uploading 20 of the biggest news services into your RSS feed, read them daily and whittle them down to your favourites. Job done.


  • Daniel Oyston
    Posted at January 22, 2010 8:06am, 22 January Reply

    You need real news consumption. The world is full of idiots and so you can’t rely on Twitter and blogs to get the good oil. Sure the news/websites are shit also half the time but you really should find some time as they provide real world context. It is not a question of entertainment.

    I know a few people who don’t take the time to find out and understand the news and they live in a bubble. “Oh interest rates went up did they?” COME ON!

    However, you are right. I couldn’t give a fuck about some chick that stole a kiss from Prince William (yes that was the 2nd story the other day). WTF! And we wonder why the world is suck a screwed up place.

    If I had my way the news would be forced to start and finish on good news stories, maybe even the kind that make you feel like becoming more involved in the community.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at January 24, 2010 10:24pm, 24 January Reply

    Perhaps I should clarify, when I say "less informed", I more so mean about what I'd call the trivial matters.

    But then it raises complete new issues regarding community as mentioned above. Take into account that the current state of the media is probably not ideal and that people will slowly starting getting their information from a variety of places… maybe there's too many issues to tackle all at once.

    Thanks for the detailed comments guys, you've had me thinking over the past few days. The one conclusion I can draw, definitely have to keep a closer eye on the news!

  • Promotional Products
    Posted at January 27, 2010 5:23am, 27 January Reply

    I love that you are willing to call a spade a spade. I'm tired of people making excuses or trying to justify the fact that ads aren't being seen or acted upon. If you're advertising, you are spending time and money to have people see your stuff… No one sees it, no one wins.

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