The (Selective) Information Age

Remember how cool it was when Google first came out with its customizable home page?

Choose wisely!

Google users were given the opportunity to dote over their home on the web — no, not their MySpace, their homepage. It was really cool how you could pick out things like “word of the day,” a fun flower pot that you could water, and the real draw… niche news feeds! But really, who would’ve thought that the “convenience” of picking news might be what is leading the minds of young people to the ground?Ted Gup wrote an exceptionally poignant piece on why he thinks so, and we kind of agree. Who’s fault is it that the young are presented with news personalization services without anyone telling them the repercussions of using them? By using these services, they can potentially cut themselves off from the wider scope of things if the breadth of their news subscriptions aren’t large enough. So for example, instead of reading a print or online newspaper with a bevy of things to choose from, people are receiving stories that specifically have to do with say- Brad Pitt. Or The NCAA tournament. Now our question is, who’s the real winner here? People like Netflix or Nike that want to advertise to niche audiences?

I make it clear to my students that it is not only their right but their duty to arrive at their own conclusions… but I challenge their right to tune out the world, and I question any system or society that can produce such students and call them educated. I am concerned for the nation when a cohort of students so talented and bright is oblivious to all such matters. 

Our answer? Both. The user gets what they want, and the advertiser gets to speak to their audience. The difference is, the advertiser is doing their job. The user is ultimately duped because by selecting certain stories, they could be missing out on news that can enable them to participate in Democracy.After reading this article, in some strange way we kind of look at news personalization services and think that yikes, for some people, this isn’t a tool of convenience, it’s almost like a shroud! If you’re going to use them, make sure your reading is well-rounded! Ok? Cool. Glad we had this talk.

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Filed under Journalism, Journalist, Journalistic Integrity

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