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News is …

July 16, 2010

Am I an oblivious idiot? Perhaps. For the first time in all my 18 years of life I discovered something (well, I didn’t discover it — my genius friend, Kirk Vaclavik, blogged about it, and I read his blog, thank God): the news means different things to different people.

Okay, well, I sort of knew that all along. For instance, I know that to some people, Michael Jackson’s funeral arrangements were considered news. And yes, there are even that cult of people (should we even consider them people, really?) who think that the differences in bikini choices from Kim Kardashian to Lindsay Lohan is news as well.

That is not what I’m talking about. I’m about to get more specific — and therefore, far, far more interesting.

In the newsroom of any newspaper company, there are many different jobs to be done — it’s not like everyone who walks through the doors at a newspaper is a reporter. No, my friend. There are photographers, editors, copy editors, editorialists, advertisers, janitors, what have you. Everyone does something different, something unique. Each person blends their unique skillset with those of their colleagues in different areas of the newsroom to create the daily miracle that is a newspaper.

All this, too, I knew.

But a thought that never crossed my mind (thank you, Kirk, for enlightening me) was: even within a newspaper, the news means different things to different people.

For example, as Kirk pointed out in his blog, the purpose of a photograph in a news story means something vastly different as you move from reporter to photographer:

“The editorial writer told me that he thought that a photograph’s purpose lied in its ability to catch the eye of the reader and grab their focus. The photo editor, on the other hand, told me that he believes that photographs do something completely different from textual articles. They communicate in a way that text is incapable of communicating.”

And that is just one aspect of the news whose significance changes as you move through the newsroom. I’m sure that copy editors feel like the headline is the most important aspect of a news story — that is why they’ve devoted their life to copy editing, to crafting catchy headlines that scream out to the reader to be read. Photographers believe with all their soul that it is the visual representation of an event that truly moves the hearts and minds of the readers, and that is why they pour their soul into capturing one, perfect, defining moment to share with the world. And those are just some examples.

But when you think about it, you realize that each person’s belief system about what the news means dictates how they choose to spend their time delivering it to the people. And, really, upon further reflection, it seems so obvious, right? You follow what you love, and what you love depends on what you find important — what moves you.

But the unifying thing about the newsroom — what makes it such a home to reporters and editors and staffers of all kinds — is that regardless of which aspect of the news each person finds most important, they all know that what brings them together is a shared sense that the delivery of the news and the act of enlightening the masses, no matter how it is done, is one of the most important things that can be done.

I share that feeling, and I feel so lucky that I have that outlook on life. And it is, indeed, that outlook that put me where I am today. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gus Hastalis permalink
    July 16, 2010 3:06 pm

    The “masses”? Just who be they?

  2. July 16, 2010 4:45 pm

    Emilia… I feel like Oprah just said my name. I have been talked about by a woman with fame!

    This is great. I thought my blog entry was so lame, but I’m completely satisfied now because while the view count may be low, it made a big difference in one of those views! Lol.

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