People have always wanted to know what is happening in the world, and thus the media has been a necessary medium for filling that purpose for an almost immeasurable amount of time. But as our culture changes, does the way we absorb information change as well?
Apparently not, based on some of the apps that have recently gained popularity. Fast Company recently posted an article titled “5 Apps That Make Reading the News More Fun”, which outlines the characteristics of these apps designed to filter information based on user preferences. For instance, the Chrome extension Rather replaces undesirable keywords in text, like Justin Bieber and twerking, with something the user likes, such as cats or sunsets. XKCD Substitutions, another Chrome extension, substitutes common jargon used in news stories with more entertaining language. The comic that inspired this app is shown below:
Though these apps are certainly funny, they illuminate a greater question regarding the purpose of the media. Should the media remain consistent, or should it adapt to changing times? It might be more enjoyable to read something with jokes interspersed throughout the text, but the purpose of news is not entertainment. Do we need apps like these to motivate ourselves to stay informed? Perhaps not yet, but their existence indicates a trend in the media toward deeper, more innovate engagement with their audience.
Many news organizations emphasize the use of interactive elements to go along with what would have been just average stories with plain texts. The Internet has provided to countless opportunities to make journalism more comprehensive. Stories can include, maps, slideshows, video, extra links, and much more, whereas without the tool, simply the text would suffice. These extra elements are typically viewed as enhancing the storytelling of news outlets, but when people are disinterested in news or information that lacks technological advancement, like those modified by these apps, perhaps individuals should reexamine their reasoning for staying informed. Is it to learn and subsequently become an active, knowledgable member of society, or is it just for pure enjoyment? Why can’ t it be both?
Finding a balance seems to be key these days. Regardless, it seems that if news outlets lag behind in evolving for the Digital Age, they might become altogether irrelevant. Or at least just really boring.