Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Wednesday's Post

July 17, 2013

What is ‘news’ in today’s world?

July 17, 2013 —     Since the first journalist wrote the first news article and published it in the first newspaper, folks have been trying to define “news”.

    Yesterday’s definitions have been swallowed up in the 24-hour TV news cycle and the incessant buzz of social media.

    As a former journalism professor turned publisher, I find myself struggling to define “news” in the context of today’s world.

    Historically, those who taught and practiced print and broadcast journalism generally embraced the premise that news is comprised of one or more of eight elements or characteristics.

    But the traditional definitions of those elements have changed, as I will try to describe.

    Immediacy – Some journalists like to say their business is news, not history. That means reporting something that just happened or is about to happen or that they want to happen.   

    Proximity – If it didn’t happen here or close by, is it important to me or my friends? Technology has brought the world to our living room, tablet computer and smart phone. Where exactly is Maldives?

    Prominence – There are as many definitions of this term as there are aspiring and perspiring musicians, drugged starlets, fading movie stars, corrupt politicians, serial killers and others in the public eye who arouse our curiosity. Their lives prove that name recognition can be a mixed blessing.

    Oddity – Most of us are too polite to talk or write about freak shows but this category goes from the simply bizarre to the daredevils who look death or crippling trauma in the eye while their cheering spectators hope for the worst.

    Conflict – Political, ethnic and religious zealots have been fighting and dying since the dawn of time. Mainly, the only things that change are names, geography, body counts and the number of television sound bites and tweets.

    Suspense – This once legitimate news element has been reduced to cheap theatrics and media manipulation as we anxiously await the birth of celebrity babies, the outcome of media circus trials and the introduction of instant millionaires at pro sports drafts.

    Emotion – Do we hang ‘em or hug ‘em? Is it a two-hanky piece or just an eye dabber? Can’t every cheating spouse cry on cue in those “tell all” news conferences?  Would you trade a Jimmy Swaggart card for a Jim Bakker?

    Consequence – History tells us that Chester A. Arthur, 21st president of the U.S., was the last public figure brave enough or foolish enough to utter these famous last words: “I may be president of the United States but my private life is nobody's damned business.”

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Wednesday's Post
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    Today’s concern about the fiscal health of Kentucky’s rural hospitals reminded me of one of my assignments as a reporter many years ago. I was sent by the Ashland Independent to Grayson to write a story about the closing of Stovall Memorial Hospital, the place of my birth some 24 years earlier.

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  • ‘Who’s gonna fill their shoes’ a key question

    That question was the title of a great country song released in 1985 by the legendary George Jones. That scenario also applies today to the communities we call home and our local organizations that make life better for all of us.

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    Lately I’ve been remembering why I’m glad I grew up in a small town where neighbors were really neighbors, not just someone who lived next door or across the road.

    July 16, 2014

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    July 9, 2014

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    June 18, 2014

  • Old ways, old days sometimes look better

    Dr. Jack Ellis, Morehead’s senior resident historian and a dear friend, sent me a copy of a clipping from the Jan. 24, 1935, issue of the Rowan County News, now called The Morehead News. “Woman fined in county court for gossiping” is the headline.

    June 11, 2014

  • Where do we find such men…and women?

    The tiny American flags fluttered in the breeze of a beautiful day. The hillside cemetery outside Grayson seemed to be covered with them like spring flowers. Again, I was awestruck by the sight of so many red, white and blue symbols of personal courage and patriotism.

    June 4, 2014

  • The ups and downs of a political journey

    In the spirit of this political season, I am recounting the tale of an affable chap who loved politics but found the winner’s circle only once.

    May 28, 2014

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