Merriam-Webster Online defines “health” as “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit” (“Health”, 2013). Reading healthy news then would mean reading current events, which are sound. However, in the world of journalism, soundness does not necessarily pertain to “good news” but “bad news”, as well. The quality of the news that people process in their daily lives does not depend on how pleasant the news is about, rather by how justified the message is being relayed to the audience. News has always been regarded to supposedly describe the reality behind events, catastrophes, and other such phenomenon. Readers and the audience in general expect to hear the truth from the media and, in return, the communication being sent is heard as “healthy news” or “quality news.”
During this Information Age, people are searching different ways to view, read, or hear about trending events. Online websites have been built for the sole purpose of delivering news. Networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have additionally made it even more convenient to supply the masses, particularly the young, with the information they need. By means of subscribing to the right accounts, users of the same social networking sites can easily browse through today’s news streamlined with the updated happenings of their social circle. Lalitbhojwani cites one advantage of using the social media platform, Twitter, stating, “You can send your message to the whole world, via twitter where millions of people can hear your message” (2012). Despite the numerous advantages of social media, attention must still be given to the reliability of the news source. News validity and verification are not the main concerns of such websites. The veracity of news is linked to the more popular websites and broadcasting companies.
During the monitoring phase of my news media journal, I observed that the news I am typically reading/ watching come from the bigger news companies themselves, such as CNN and ABC News. I would identify these as “quality” or “healthy” news since these companies have reputations of delivering news to the people on time. Of course, being the sole receiver without knowing anything else besides the information that these news sources are feeding an audience, I would not know, which version of the news is the truth without doing further research. Even then, standards are maintained in the news industry, and companies like ABC News and CNN have proven themselves through time to be on par with the standards of journalism.
In my definition of “healthy news”, news should only be delivered to the people if it is a matter of significance or importance. Otherwise, it would be called “entertainment.” Entertainment is not difficult to find in today’s times. Contrary to this, real news is rather rare since it seeks the truth and is propelled by the challenge of communicating only the objective, justified truth. The quantity of news, on the other hand, is not relevant to readers/ viewers in the part that there is only one version of an objective truth. However, in every story, there are always multiple sides. Humans cannot help but become subjective in deciding what or who to believe. Often, humans are biased by their own prejudices and opinions. Nevertheless, two or more sides to a story are somewhat inevitable which makes it necessary to publish bigger quantities of news. It is then up to the readers/ viewers to judge which sources/ facts/ statements are true, half true, or downright lies. Quality, though, will always be more significant than quantity. Hearing one side of which is the truth is always better than hearing different versions of the same falsehoods.
Looking over my news journal, I have noted that The Daily Reveille, WAFB, and CNN are the channels/ publications which I commonly refer to for highlighting of current events. The Daily Reveille, according to their website, is “written, edited and produced solely by students of Louisiana State University” (“About Us – Lsureveille.com: Site”, 2013) led by the School of Mass Communication. Moreover, WAFB on Channel 9 is “the CBS network affiliate located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana” (“About WAFB”, 2013). Finally, CNN’s parent company is Time Warner Inc as indicated in their website (2013). I find myself consistent in utilizing these news sources, and I recognize the dependability of the same sources.
During the next week, I ventured to discover more sources of media besides my usual choices in my daily news diet. I came along ABC News or the American Broadcasting Company, which is presently owned by Time Warner Company. Choosing a different news source took some stages of adapting to the new format and the new way of digesting the information that I was reading/ viewing. When one is used to receiving messages from a particular sender, one has to make adjustments for alternative senders besides the original. The process of news digestion from a new source was not completely difficult. It was only a matter of understanding the message of the story and then comprehending this meaning to form thoughts and opinions based on what I have read or viewed. Overall, my experience was not all too daunting, yet still it naturally required some changes for me to get comfortable with the novelty of my news preference. ABC News was quite satisfying ,but I would still prefer to go back to my original choices since it seemed to outgrow me and, in fact, “felt like home” when it comes to reading/ viewing news.
Since (as I have mentioned) there are always more than one side to every story, different sources and media are used in order to gain the information that is needed. Thus, limitation to particular media only can compromise the overall “healthiness” of the media diet. A healthy media diet, just like the nutritional diet that is necessary for human health, involves a bit of everything (with some parts larger and some smaller than the others). A comprehensive list of sources can be exhausting for the audience, but a well thought out news diet could lead to quality news. Focus, therefore, should be placed on the type of media used and portions of this media so as to tackle news that are “sound” and “healthy”. The quantity of this media does not have to be excessive. My news journals were often focused on the topic of “Justice.” Depending on the news that the audience is interested in, he/ she can divide his/ her news sources according to interest and news that are relevant for the majority of the population.
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To put the matter simply, news is divided into that of interest and that of necessity. Interesting news are usually easier to find and is involved with less stress while necessary news can be stressful yet vitally informative. More often, interesting news are called “good news” and necessary news, “bad news.” This may not always be the case since there are some readers/ viewers, who are interested in the updates of the war in Middle East or the possibility of a hurricane coming from the Pacific. Necessary news can also be pleasant; for an example, news stating that there is a new and tested cure for AIDS. Once these types of news are identified, the viewer/ reader can then select sources from which to get the news.
In some instances, news sources cannot be readily available to a particular location due to certain reasons. News availability is also a factor in the selection process of which news media to patronize. Publications, for example, are not always available in every country. Specific websites are even banned by certain countries purportedly to protect the welfare of its citizens. Another factor would also come in the form of resources. Lack of resources, whether economically or physically, may mean lesser chance of the availability of “quality news.”
In summary, the experiment of choosing a different way for news consumption has not been too difficult and only takes some mild adaptation to be effective. The quality of news is naturally dependent on the audience’s choice of the media from which the news comes. The news can be either simply interesting or fundamentally necessary. It could also be both. The availability of such quality news is a factor to deal with in acquiring “healthy news.” Healthy news is not just a choice, however; it is also an exercise of consistency. Jumping from one media to another can be both tiring and confusing. Consistency in consuming the best choices for the selected news diet, in contrary, creates a more effective way to digest news on the everyday basis.
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