Our social media journey has led us astray to the world of the small screen. Let’s look into the ways in which TV news has shrunk in order to keep up with social media.
I’d like to bring you back to my first post Incredible Shrinking Journalism. Here I discussed exactly that; how Twitter is condensing our news. What I found particularly interesting however, is the similarity between Twitter and news tickers (or crawlers) on TV news and the way in which both of these new ways of sharing news has ended up shrinking it.
It’s a well known fact that people no longer gather around the newsstand to read and discuss current events. Television changed that age-old tradition. But now, with advances in technology, we do not simply sit in front of the TV and gorge ourselves on news; we are constantly bombarded with news tickers, breaking news, videos and sometimes images that skew the meaning of the content.
News tickers are those sliding grabs of text that give you the gist of the main headlines in a few words. CNN Executive Vice President and General Manager Teya Ryan wholeheartedly supports the use of news tickers on the CNN Network as they add news value (Romson: 2002, p26).
When comparing news tickers to Twitter, we can see that both of these ways of accessing news facilitate the instant dissemination of short news fragments. This is sometimes referred to as ambient journalism; when lightweight and easy to digest bits of information enable the public to maintain a mental model of news (Hermida: 2010, p297).
New technologies have made it possible for people to access news on a variety of platforms. This in turn has changed the grammar and function of the news (Thurman & Lupton: 2008, p439). This multiplatform usage with regards to news has made people accustomed to digesting those small snippets of news and made it easy for people to multitask when watching the news.
But news tickers are not the saving grace of all our journalistic needs “They are bad journalism when they are dated, incomplete, alarmist or misleading” (McClellan & Kerschbaumer: 2001, p16), and though this point comes down to the integrity of the news organization, it is hard, when considering from the audience’s perspective, to judge whether a ticker is reliable, up to date, or even accurate. The reason for this also is because there isn’t enough word space to give context to the information, and often news tickers are written to maintain the viewers attention and can be misleading.
To me, the news ticker is something to pay attention to when the sports report comes on. But I think news tickers are to be taken in moderation, just as with every healthy diet, a wide variety of sources are recommended.
*Image – Fox News Ticker that ran after the death of Michael Jackson (Image – June 25, 2009 Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images North America)
Hermida, A., 2010. Twittering the News. Journalism Practice. 4(3), p297-208.
McClellan, S. & Kerschbaumer, K., 2001. Tickers and Bugs: Has TV Gotten Way Too Graphic? Broadcasting & Cable. 131(50), p16.
Romson, A., 2002. Ticker Embedded In News. Broadcasting & Cable. 132(31), p26
Thurman, N. & Lupton, B., 2008. Convergence Calls. Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Technologies. 14(4), p439-455