Monday, March 19, 2012

Counter-culture, cliques & communication

News is fascinating, isn't it?

"Journalism is the first rough draft of history."
          - Philip Graham, publisher, Washington Post
 As someone who has always been interested in history (and in the past couple of years historiography), this wrote & the idea behind it had a pretty big impact on me. I've always wanted to be a journalist, but I've never really known what that meant - in terms of what I want to actually do after all this university stuff, that is - or how exactly I was going to use the knowledge I'll acquire over the next few years in order to actually make a difference. Oh yeah, I'm one of those irritating activist-type students who wants to change the world. Well, reading this quote, it occurred to me that whilst being a historian or history teacher has never been in the cards for me despite my passion for it, I could contribute to history in the here and now by being one of those pesky people who write about what's happening in the world. Then, in a few years' time if we haven't blown up the world already, people like Bob Carr, Anne Summers & the like can access what I've written and use it to form a decent idea of what the 2010s and 2020s were like in terms of world news, pop culture, music, celebrity worship & the terrifying rise of the internet. Or whatever else they want to write about, I guess...

Something that has always interested me about journalism and the news, however, is how cliquey it all seems to be. Not in your typical 'On Wednesdays, we wear pink' way, more in the sense that there's such a divide between those who keep up with world news, and those who don't. In my nineteen years on this planet, I have heard the conversation,

Person one: So have you heard about the conflict in Syria?
Person two: Um, no?
Person one: Uh, how could you NOT have?
Person two: I don't know, I don't read the paper I guess?
Person one: Riiiiiight...

more often that I've heard people actually trying to educate one another regarding newsworthy items. That, and the obvious arguments that crop up between those who hold differing opinions regarding news events past & present... I recall, during Extension History in high school, one of my classmates undertaking a major research project into 9/11 and the conspiracy theories surrounding it, and she caused complete uproar whenever it came to discussions! Thank goodness we weren't in Middle America at the time, else I genuinely think someone may have stood up and shot her!

Why is news so cliquey? Why do those who hold certain (usually 'left' or 'counter') views automatically grant themselves with a sense of entitlement that essentially removes them from further discussion, either because they're too unwilling to listen or people, from experience, refuse to talk with them any more?

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