The State of the Media: A Millennial’s View

I’ve been sitting on this article for over a week hoping it’d maturate into a brilliant masterpiece, but it hasn’t. So, why today? Erika Napoletano wrote an open letter to the media following the firestorm of shock tactics flung onto the Internet in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy. She gets it too. The need I felt to start BoomerangBeat and the love/hate relationship I’ve developed with the media were echoed in her post. However, I add another layer to the rant. So thank you, Erika, for inspiring me to finally post my own letter.

So I ask: will you help us learn, encourage us to listen, and remind us that there is a story behind each face, bloodstain, horrific incident, gun owner, Muslim family, and child’s smile? – Erika Napoletano

When I first started toying with the idea for BoomerangBeat I imagined a news outlet geared toward the Millennial generation. However, working through the first two posts I realized my goal isn’t to tailor information in the direction of current Millennial interest (as the name might suggest); it’s purpose is to facilitate learning in a way modern society needs  – quick, simple, truthful, and beneficial

I’m frustrated with the media. There seem to only be two options when it comes to reporting to the public  – long form journalism and empty calories.

I have a deep respect for the deteriorating art of traditional journalism and storytelling, but it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t favor the busy or the uninformed.

The empty calorie pieces are littered with humor, pop culture, blood and gore, or the too oft Breaking News: No Pope Chosen so-let’s-watch-for-20-minutes-as-his-helicopter-hovers-above-the-Vatican-so-we-don’t-miss-a-thing bullshit. Entertaining? Sure. Sustainable? No.

In the last ten years we’ve redefined breaking news from “happened yesterday” to “happened less than fifteen seconds ago.” The next order of magnitude will be prohibitively expensive and (most of the time) not particularly useful. Better, I think, to hustle in the other direction and figure out how to benefit from well-understood truth instead of fast and fresh rumor. – Seth Godin

The Millennial generation has come of age in a world where the media functions as a megaphone for complex news issues more than they do as interpreters, helping us contextualize and understand. Pew Research Center’s State of the Media 2013 addresses this issue directly.

This is a problem because as a member of this generation, I’ve often seen and felt the wrath of the finger pointing habit of older generations. We’re pegged as a group of out of touch, irresponsible, and ignorant individuals that care more about Facebook and celebrities than we do about politics and current affairs.

Maybe this is true but it circles back to my problem with the state of the media …

Though genuine efforts have been made by some to help us, we don’t need another platform regurgitating popular headlines. Technology has already allowed us to customize our alerts, Facebook walls and Twitter streams. As Doug Fisher said it best, “We can get the ‘more’ if we want it very easily. If the media wants our loyalty and engagement, the formula isn’t more, it’s better.”

If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. – Ignacio Estrada

This is my goal with BoomerangBeat. I’m not the best writer and as Erika said, I’m throwing AP style out the window, but I’m trying to change a landscape I’m unhappy with.

And though I may be raising my hand with a slightly different problem than what Erika, Seth or the Pew Research Center are raising their hands for, I think the overall message to the media is the same – enough.