A news reporter reviews notes for a story

I am guilty… of wanting my news quickly, in short, digestible snippets. That is why PBS’s News Hour with Jim Leher is difficult for me to get through. But every so often, I find myself wondering about the others. When the news media does a segment on the Holocaust, I question why the Armenian genocide is so often overlooked.  Or when the New York Times does an expose on life in small town Elyria, Ohio, I wonder about small towns all across the United States that are slowly dying as the young, desperate for jobs, leave for life in the big city. Why are so many stories left untold despite their relevance?

I confronted another round of “whys” just a few weeks ago, when news broke that the Taliban had targeted Malala Yousufzai for her stance on the education of women. Her courage is undoubtedly unmeasurable. For a fifteen year old girl to capture the attention of the entire world speaks to her character, her commitment, her fortitude. For that, she deserves to be commended. She is an inspiration to us all and provides a beacon of hope in a region in which very few women can realistically dream of a better life. But what about the others who share her fight? Why do we so rarely hear the stories of the countless men, women and girls who defy Taliban authority on a daily basis to ensure that females in the region are properly educated?

I have come to conclude that my generation is indifferent to lengthy news reports that entail months, even years of preparation. Coming of age during the technological boom, we can barely remember a time when research meant pulling a book off of a shelf or heading to the library. Instead, with answers to our every question just a few mouse clicks away, we no longer seem to have the patience to stop and listen to the stories that so desperately need to be heard.

So today, while I have no real legal analysis, I wish to say the following:

To the voices that have thus far remained unheard: I am sorry, sorry for being so concerned about my own life to stop and listen. You have so much to offer about a world I could never imagine living in, and you deserve to have your time in the spotlight.

To the readers of this post: If you have a story that you think the world should hear, please post it as a comment so we can all sit up and listen. We owe you that much.

— Swathi Padmanabhan

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5 Responses to What about the others?

  1. Katie Kuhn says:

    Since reading your post, I have come to realize that I—like so many others—fall prey to pagination. I too want my news in “short, digestible snippets,” which manifests itself in an unwillingness to click on page 2. Once I reach the bottom of an article, whether or not I have finished the piece, I often move on to another headline. To my understanding, pagination serves two purposes: increase page views and allow online media outlets more ad space. While both serve business functions, they arguably foster what Marina described as a lack of media literacy. Taking a little extra time to listen to stories that need to be heard is an admirable goal. For me that starts with one simple mouse click, either on the “single-page” button or at the very least, on the little arrow leading to that ubiquitous second page.

  2. Marina Visan says:

    Great post! I was a communications major in college, and, despite what some may think, we actually did learn quite a bit of practical knowledge. One theme throughout all my courses was media literacy and most people’s lack of it. The media has so much control over us and what we are exposed to (even before the internet) that it does take effort to become media literate. Everyone should try to media educate themselves and look past the front pages and top stories. It’s important to critically analyze information that we are exposed to, and it starts with asking questions, like the ones posed in this blog post. Thanks for raising awareness!

  3. Swathi says:

    Danielle, that’s a great point. Thank you for raising it. People certainly do need to be paid for news reporting, regardless of its length. However, with most reputable newspapers and magazines charging subscription fees for online usage, I wonder what sort of financial incentives these publications require to return to in-depth reporting.

    The reality is that the Internet has changed the way we view news. We want instantaneous alerts in short, brief snippets. Our smart phones make it really easy to skim through headlines and stay informed, and this culture of easy access has seemingly lowered our patience to read an 8 or 9 page article.

    Perhaps reporters would be more inclined to tell in-depth stories in installments, thereby catering to readers’ tendencies while still doing news stories justice.

  4. Danielle Barav says:

    Another thing to consider is how news outlets are growing less able to support reporters who spend months researching a story because many people are moving away from subscription-based sources of news and toward free sources. More newspapers and magazines are cutting back on print circulation or eliminating it altogether. Electronic articles are more easily shared with broader audiences that lack a subscription than are traditional print sources. Ensuring that in-depth stories do not disappear may take more than time – it may also require a financial investment.

  5. Joanna Collins says:

    Thank you for a post that really made me stop and reflect. I just wanted to share this inspiring story about a courageous young comedian who made his dreams come true, even though it might have been easier at times to sit on the sidelines. It is people like Mr. Kapur who change the way the world thinks!http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vidur-kapur/this-openly-gay-south-asi_b_2010052.html?utm_hp_ref=good-news&ir=Good%20News