The current system for delivering news online is broken. Readers and journalists will need to work together to find a new one.
By Michael Luo | The New Yorker
A central purpose of journalism is the creation of an informed citizenry. And yet—especially in an environment of free-floating, ambient news—it’s not entirely clear what it means to be informed. Illustration by Golden Cosmos
Last month, I decided to try an experiment with my media diet. Usually, in the morning, I skim e-mail newsletters in my in-box, scroll through my Twitter feed, and peruse the news apps on my phone; later, in the office, I tap through my notifications and monitor more than a dozen news-related apps, including Facebook and Twitter, while juggling other tasks. I usually feel as though I’m managing to stay abreast of the day’s biggest news stories, but my reading tends to be fragmentary—I’m only skimming a story or absorbing a partial update. Although I’m reading more than ever before, it often feels like I’m understanding less.
I haven’t stopped getting my news in this way, but I’m trying to change my ways to a certain extent. I’ve adopted a new ritual: reading the print edition of the New York Times over breakfast and on my commute. Since the early two-thousands, when I was a cub reporter at the Times, I’ve had the newspaper delivered daily to my door, but, as I’ve started getting more and more of my news online, I’ve been neglecting it. Having returned to spending uninterrupted time with the print newspaper each morning, I’m engaging with the news in a more focussed way. Certainly, I’m able to read more broadly. I’ve read articles that weren’t in my social-media feeds, or that I missed while scrolling through my apps: reporting on efforts to make Copenhagen a carbon-neutral city, on talks between the United States and the Taliban, on a new study that found that the size of bullets affects mortality rates in shootings. It seems to me that I’ve become better informed.