Why Do We Want to Know What the News Is Saying About Us?


Why Do We Want to Know What the News Is Saying About Us?

When a news story is announced, the first person to react would be the media. But then, who on earth is going to check out the news that’s being broadcasted? Most news consists of outrageously untrue things being spewed from some well-meaning reporter, trying to inform the masses of something dreadful that happened in some other country, far away from where it actually happened. In this way, the world of news is very small and confined.

“News” as we know it today probably started in ancient Greece when it was called “the antedating.” This was a time when news travelled from town to town and country to country. The term “news” eventually became “ews” with the dawn of new ways of conveyance, such as the horse-drawn sleigh and the mulete. From there on, to the present day, we now simply refer to news as something that happens in the world. Now, that could be a rather stretch, as everything that happens around the world is now being reported by various news agencies and broadcasting outlets.

However, news has not always been that way. In fact, news used to be quite different. Ancient Greece, for example, did not have newspapers. What they used instead were oral epics like the epigallocateion or the earliest known history of the human race, the Ptolemaic oracle, that spoke of the happenings of heavenly bodies and also spoke of the deities. Not much was reported from those times, because there was virtually no chance of being attacked by enemy forces or of any great misfortune happening to anyone.

However, after some time, as the military threats decreased and trade networks grew more intertwined, the use of newspaper news began to increase. Inevitably, this brought about greater changes in terms of reporting, as editors and reporting teams became increasingly dependent on each other, while trying to conform to the desires of their publishers. This eventually culminated in the modern news media, which has since become even more censored and has given way to the whitewash. Now, the only thing that you read in the newspapers these days is the news release, which is rushed out to the presses just hours before the end of the business day. The purpose of this is to give immediate space to the news and no room for thought, comments, or analysis of the events that have transpired.

So then, why is this? Why is it that we have a tendency to read what others have written about us in the media, especially when it comes to events in our own country that impact our lives? One possible answer to that question is that we are afraid to look at the bigger picture, and that includes the ones who created the news and who decide what should and shouldn’t be broadcast, reported, and commented upon. In my book, The News: The Biography of a Belief System, I identify four major drivers of newsworthiness. These are power, profit, influence, and reputation.

The fourth driver is public image; how we perceive ourselves to the rest of the world, as well as how we perceive ourselves to other people. This may also be influenced by mass media outlets that interpret the news the way that they want it to be interpreted. In this respect, the current debates in the United States over health care and immigration are symptomatic of how we use and abuse the power of the media to connect with the general public and form opinions about issues where they are ill-informed or have an interest that has little to do with the news at all.