Fifty years ago, Walter Cronkite told the news. And the news was whatever his editors put on the sheet on front of him. The New York Times’ motto has always been “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” Perhaps “fit” is the keyword in that declaration, but “news” is far more important in today’s hyper-connected economy.
News is no longer determined by a group of editors in a closed room. Thanks to blogs, thanks to Twitter, thanks to the Drudge Report, thanks to Huffington Post, the masses control the news. The masses are no longer the end user. The public is now the producer.
But when I choose the news — and especially when I produce it through mobile videos and posts — that news is only relevant to my followers. Whereas the New York Times can say, “Hey, everyone should read this because it affects you and your loved ones.” It’s in the DNA of individual tweets to say, “Hey, only read this if you 1) have a connection to me 2) care about what I have to say or 3) have connected with someone who found what I said important enough to share it.”
This brings us back to a truer form of news, sure. Truer, meaning that it’s shared to individuals, not masses, and transferred person-to-person. If you rely on Twitter for “newsworthy” content, you’ll only get what you choose to consider “newsworthy.”
But it also puts us in a relative universe of what Jimmy Buffett calls “useless but important information.”
“Who really cares? Trillions Twitter,” he sings on his latest album, “Songs From St. Somewhere.” “I can’t comprehend the titillation. Breaking news? … Covering useless and important information.”
Sure. There are a lot of random cat videos and mindless complaining, but each individual person finds his or her tweets and posts worthy of the time it takes to type and press send.
And the rest of us can find it relevant or keep scrolling. We can share it or move on.
In one of the last verses of Buffett’s song, he says gold is only worth something when it is found, because after it’s found most men hide it.
“Only gets its value from guards and chains and locks,” he sings.
But that time is gone. The gatekeepers are no more. You determine the news. You produce the content. The rest of us can see it as useless, but to you — to your followers — it’s important.