3rd February 2016
News. Not News. The Bubble (and Trump)
I am not sure when it started. Possibly as soon as journalism was a thing or perhaps more recently. I certainly remember being on an ‘anti sanitary products tax’ march in the 1980s when a fellow marcher (we numbered about 80!) complained loudly to no one in particular “I bet this isn’t covered by the Beeb”. I remember sharing his anger. It was big news. To us, every march or demonstration was big news. People (journalists) simply didn’t understand.
But all was not lost. Someone had an idea. A Sunday newspaper would be produced, it would only report our news, it would put ideological purity before news values or newsworthiness. Looking back it was the non Internet age version of ranting about ‘mainstream media’ It lasted less than a year! It didn’t fail because the issues it covered didn’t matter. It failed because it wasn’t a newspaper it was a ’cause paper’. It didn’t report news. It covered causes.
If only Twitter had existed. We could’ve uploaded photos of me dressed as a tampon and tweeted @ every news outlet in the country. My guess is that they would have still ignored us unless they wanted to poke fun.
2016 is a very different world. News travels quickly. Journalists are on their toes. An exclusive can be snatched in seconds and every event, demonstration or speech is immediately available online. So we have instant news. Or do we? Is it news or is it just noise and the opinion and bias of 80 or so people?
Quickly thrown into the ‘news, not news mix’ is the cry of ‘get out of the bubble, report real news’. Of course the people shouting that are doing so from inside their own bubble. A bubble of their own making; an echo chamber.
A classic example is a recent piece in the Independent with the headline “The Jeremy Corbyn story that nobody wanted to publish” . Read it and ask if this is news or is it something that a listings magazine would cover? Away from whether the people appearing are ‘celebrities’ or ‘stellar performers’ you have to ask would the author be demanding national coverage for a Tory fundraiser featuring Jim Davidson and Jimmy Tarbuck? I would wager the answer is no!
Back in the summer the huge (by UK standards) rallies held by Corbyn in the Labour Party leadership elections were covered almost twenty fours hours a day, seven days a week. The smaller and less-well attended meetings held by Andy Burnham and others barely got a look-in. Why? Corbyn was big news, the others weren’t. That is what happens. Some things you do are news – others aren’t. It isn’t bias. It isn’t prejudice.
It is the old ‘news or not news?’ question cropping up again.
To further complicate matters when journalists do report niche or fairly off-beam stories the comments below the line shout “you call that news!?”
My guess is that when it comes to news we have to step outside of the bubble, just as journalists do, forget our own pet causes and be careful not to fall into the trap of believing in news that only supports our own prejudices.
I have noticed that fanatical Donald Trump supporters are a little like fanatical Corbyn supporters. Thinking about it many supporters of Farage behave in the same way. They live in a bubble. They shout at people living in other bubbles. Everything that supports their man is news. Any alternative view is cast aside as either lies or prejudice.
So what is news?
Trump not winning the Iowa Caucas. Now that is news!
So is this blog post news? Of course it isn’t. It is my opinion. And that, of course, isn’t newsworthy. It is simply my opinion formed inside of my own little bubble.
By Tim Carter
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