The Mass Media Diet

After working for a while on my news crawler, I’ve stopped dead in my tracks. I’m fed up with various news agencies, and have started to question the value of following any news at all.

For starters, there are several news sources that are the journalistic equivalent of junk food – their articles are often just a couple of sentences, and more than half the content is coverage of celebrities.
I’ve also learned that most news agencies buy their stories (or at least a large share of them), and therefore for international news (which is what I prefer to read) I would find greater value in just following Reuters directly than following any newspapers from my country.  The news agencies with real journalists and long-form articles seem few and far between.

One of my goals was to cut through the noise and make it easier to find the “important” stories – instead I ended up creating a flood of low-value information. While the content is indexed well enough to enable one to find similar articles, that need for “deeper journalism” hasn’t occurred in my daily news consumption since I started the project.

The tool I’ve been building could probably be useful for a journalist, but it’s not really worth the effort of using myself. This realization was a real blow, as not using your own product is a terrible signal to send.

In short, I’ve put this project on hold. I might pick it back up in the future, but right now it’s become actively unappealing to me.

My relationship to mass media has changed, possibly as a consequence of this project – I no longer manically cycle through the different news websites, but rather drop by the “real” sources (e.g. Reuters, who is the source of all international news in Norway, and Al Jazeera, who still produces long-form quality content) a couple of times a week. My faith in newspapers has been thoroughly shaken, but maybe this was the wake-up call I needed.