Yes, Yes, We Know Already: How Repetition Indicates Sloppy Journalism

By Emma Buchman
Staff Columnist

When a network is short on good news (or bad news, come to think of it), it is necessary for them to fill the empty space.  It has become a typical tactic for reporters to fill this space with interviews that relate to current major news.  This is all well and good until they show the same demonstration over and over again until our brains melt.  While we are appreciative that networks like CNN and MSNBC try to keep us informed and knowledgeable, it sometimes appears lost on them that their primary objective is news.

Every news story has stagnant moments where journalists must wait for the next development.  And depending on the situation, this can take days, or even weeks.  For want of a better story and because they would be terrible people for interviewing grieving families twice, networks will repeat interviews with different but annoyingly similar interviewees.  Not only does this method make the interview become boring and repetitive, it is also slightly insulting to the intelligence of people watching.

This problem reached its peak for me over the past several weeks, during which the primary topic on the news has been the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.  This is a tragic event, much more so because of the recent developments suggesting that everyone on that flight has most likely died.  That being said, this event was also a media goldmine.  Not only is it shocking and mysterious, it plays right into the American phobia of airplanes.  More importantly, however, it is news that needed to be shared with the world, not only to ease the suffering of the passengers’ families, but to keep the public informed about what is happening in the world today.

Ironically, due to this event’s mysterious nature, nothing came from the various searches for the plane for several weeks; meaning that the networks were left hanging.  And slowly but surely, each day would feature the same thing: “Still no sign of Flight 370.  Coming up, is it really possible for a plane to just disappear in this age of technology?”  This was a slightly interesting question days after the flight disappeared.  But by the time I had heard it for the fifth time over a three week period, it made watching the news irritating, and at times it made me question the intelligence of the network’s tactics.  There are so many things going on in this crazy world today. The repetitive nature of the news indicates laziness, pure and simple.

What makes good journalism is finding a current story that will get people excited about the news.  There is always something to find, to investigate.  Just because it is not the story of the century, does not mean that it is not worth sharing.  In fact, it is often the little stories that keep the general public informed and entertained.

For me, a truly dedicated and passionate journalist is willing to root out an interesting story.  Repeating the same spiel indicates a lack of effort and enthusiasm on the part of the reporters and journalists contributing to the network, or perhaps an unnecessary restriction on the part of the network executives.

I understand that it is difficult for reporters today in the age of the 24-hour news cycle.  But that does not change the fact that being a journalist comes with responsibility and accountability.  And if one is not enthusiastic enough to take up that challenge, they do not belong in the world of news.

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