Opinions: Here’s the bad news you need to know

Austin W Belet, Opinions Editor

Here in the age of 2019, and frankly for most of the time journalism has existed, there is a need to call it out: people crave the worst in humanity.

When true-crime podcasts are ablaze, serial killers are memorialized on t-shirts, and the local news sites feature arrests as front page news, there is something to be said about the content that news outlets feel they have to push in an effort to get people’s attention.

Logging into outlets like Florida Politics, NPR, and our local news stations allows us the ability to gain an understanding of the communities we exist in. If you go to Florida Politics you would learn about a measure trying to be put on the 2020 ballot to ban assault rifles. NPR is featuring a piece about a person who is responsible for a breach of over 100 million customers at Capital One. Councilman for District 11 Danny Becton discussed with a reporter about how he plans to address crime issues around the Baymeadows area with Action News Jax. 

These outlets act as tools for us. They help us to hold public leaders accountable, they help us to know about major events that can be affecting friends and family, or they help us know of the great things happening in our community (such as the Mayor trying to preserve a huge piece of Jacksonville, and national, history with Norman Studios).

Instead, we appease our appetites with pieces about people pulling guns on people who don’t want to try their vape, bachelorette sex talks, and A$AP Rocky having to go to trial.  

I even got a push notification when the recent Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting occurred about “bloody images”. 

Sensationalist news is nothing new. It will likely continue. Hell, even the Spinnaker has our bouts of sensationalism (see Chicken Tender Subs on Sale (okay, maybe that one is important)).

News outlets respond to what get them clicks, views, mentions, and quotes. They produce stories so that they may keep and grow an audience. If there is blood in the water, outlets flock to it in an effort to get the story; they do this because they know people will look for it. 

Let me add that almost every news outlet produces stories that have value (even the ones I don’t agree with). Specifically in Jacksonville, there are stories about JEA getting privatized, the referendum fight for school funding, and the issues that were found leading to the Colloway Cove apartment fire. 

Outlets have a problem with producing fluff pieces to keep the clicks, but consumers have a problem with perpetuating the problem. Outlets should be doing a better job at making stories that matter, consumers need to do a better job at reading these stories. 


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