The twenty-four-hour news cycle is an idea ingrained in the nature of modern day reporting. With all the social media platforms that disseminate news, in addition to the websites of each newspaper giant, stories cross a screen as fast as users can click a button. But is this breakneck pace really good for the world’s understanding and internationalizing of the news?
Having fast and secure access to breaking events is necessary to keep the world informed. According to The New York Post, Americans check their phones an average of once every twelve minutes, eighty times per day. When looking at their screens, people are checking out the latest photos on their social media accounts, looking at what their friends are up to, or maybe texting to coordinate plans. In any of those interactions, people are either reading or hearing about the news and the trending stories of a given day.
In their hearts, people are curious – but that trait can also lead to being interested in reading the most gruesome stories. No one wants to hear that a cat was successfully rescued from a tree. Boring, right? People want to hear that there were twelve kittens dangling precariously from said tree and that shirtless firemen with eight-pack abs had to dive-roll to save the helpless, though cute, baby animals. Granted, that is a rather flamboyant example, but imagine the clicks a story like that would get.
But think about North Korea. Everyone knew the second the North Koreans fired a ballistic missile test over Japan; it was splattered across every new source. But, when the two Koreas decide to march under one flag at the PyeongCheng opening ceremonies, that headline is splashed across outlets, then quickly cycled out. If you Google North Korea right now, countless articles concerning their missiles and ideas of how to combat the country pop up. But you would have to dig around, or type in a more specialized phrase into the browser, to get to the aforementioned flag story. Maybe the question of twenty-four-hour news is a merely a product of Google or Apple’s browser algorithm, not with an intrinsic norm of twenty-first century news.
Having news and information so readily accessible can change the way we regular people read it and think about the impact it has on government planning. Imagine: what would have happened if a Roman farmer took a selfie with Caesar casually crossing the Rubicon in the background and posted it to Twitter? Well, an analyst working for the Roman Senate would have passed the information along to their supervisor and there would have been time to prepare a more effective counter strike. Maybe Caesar would have been defeated. This is a hyperbolic example to be sure, but I say it with the hopes that it will convey the potentially history-alternating nature of real-time publication of facts.
The primary function of news sources, this paper included, is to disseminate facts and to educate the public. Technology allows new sources to broadcast those stories at an exponentially faster rate than was ever possible in the past. Now, there are so many more stories at everyone’s fingertips; someone in New York can know what is happening on the streets of Kabul, a German reader can know that Prime Minister of New Zealand is pregnant—there are infinite examples.
With the rate at which new stories come to light, older, though not any less relevant, ones can be thrust aside. While we consume newer and newer headlines, we should not forget about the enduring humanitarian crises or fallouts from natural disasters that need our constant support and attention. We have to remember the news from days, months, and weeks ago. It is not any less pertinent, although it may be somewhat less accessible.