Sunday, April 17, 2011

USA Today the new TMZ?

The USA Today is considering doing something especially stupid, even for a worthless paper like the USA Today.  

As if there wasn’t enough competition in the news world causing sensationalized stories and skewed views, the USA today is considering providing their reporters bonuses based on webpage views. 

As the linked article mentions, the USA Today isn’t exactly known for their hard hitting, in depth stories, but it is still a nationwide distributed news source that some, probably many, no doubt read to inform them of current events.  It is also no secret that “boring” stories about war, government takeovers, and the environment don’t sell as well as juicy ones regarding celebrities’ sex lives and reality TV.  And while more unnecessary stories about these pointless subjects would be a problem, the bonuses will also no doubt lead to over sensationalized stories filled with exaggeration (no matter if the subject is serious or not), not to mention the fact that the reporter will spend less time reporting and more time marketing themselves to drive traffic to their pages.   Additionally, this move may cause the reporters to inject themselves a little too much in the story (to differentiate themselves from other writers) leading to over-opinionated articles within news stories that were originally intended just to provide facts.  Imagine an entire paper of biased columns instead of regular, informative news articles. 

Now,  you may say that if this sort of thing is what the market wants, then who am I (or anyone) to fight the will of the people.  But this is a load of bullshit.  If we encouraged complete autonomy all the time, the nation’s children would always opt for recess over social studies (and I’m not really talking about kids here.)  The media has an obligation to provide the public with accurate news about the world and encourage people to engage in real issues that effect us both socially and politically.

When we live in a world where Snooki is receiving more money to “speak” at major universities than Toni Morrison, it should be considered another step towards the “Idiocracy” that I personally fear will one day soon be upon us.  And implementing a system where reporters now have to “sell” their stories for money will only push us further in that direction. 

At this rate, I look forward to watching Ass: The Movie somewhere around 2016.

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