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News by Design: Surprise Addiction

The news media crafts news with two goals in mind – addiction and virality.

If you’re not talking about certain topics and sharing it with your social groups, the media are failing at their primary job.

The more they succeed with addiction and surpirse, the more relevancy they maintain. Of course, that means they can sell more ads because they gather up more eyeballs.

Impressions, clicks and shares equal more opportunities to surround their stories with ads and keep you in their publication spheres.

This is nothing new, and it’s explained succintly here:

“This insight comes from Robert E. Park, the first sociologist to ever study newspapers. “For the news is always finally,” he wrote “what Charles A. Dana described it to be, ‘something that will make people talk.’” Nick Denton told his writers the same thing nearly one hundred years later: “The job of journalism is to provide surprise.”* News is only news if it departs from the routine of daily life.” – Trust Me, I’m Lying_ Confessions of a Me – Holiday, Ryan (Holiday, Ryan)

Always remember this when examining your own news consumption and that of your circles. This fundamental goal leads to disturbing results that influence what gets published.

It’s the reason why boring subjects that affect your life receive limited coverage (think taxes, legal rulings and local edicts) get pushed to the background while salacious topics (think celebrity opinions, presidential tweets and remote violence) are pushed to the headlines.

You’re quite familiar with life’s daily routine, so you’re attracted to these dramas, which are sometimes manufactured and frequently embellished to feed the addiction.

One way to limit this affect is to withdraw from news consumption. Or, you can gain a better understanding of how the news is made by reading Media Collusion. Either one works wonders.



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