The nature of social media allows news to be transmitted almost instantly. From across the globe, millions of people feel like they can weigh in on the problems that led to a factory collapse, a military advancement, a political protest, or the aftermath of a natural disaster. The news is so important in the moment, but it is also regrettably easy to forget.
I know I too fall victim to losing interest in news; we all have. After a couple of weeks of hearing about the same news story, the coverage magically vanishes along with our attention span, migrating further and further from the front page. What about the Haitian earthquake in 2010 the Red Cross spent millions on? I have no idea how the money was actually used or if it was helpful. Same with the Japanese tsunami in March of 2011.
While some news doesn’t “deserve” the front-page status it sometimes receives, I feel that other stories are dropped from the public’s attention too quickly.
Take Ferguson for example. The events in Ferguson are doing a wonderful job to show gaps in the US political system. It is hard to ignore because it is in the headlines of many major news sources, but there was a time during Darren Wilson’s 100-day paid-leave disappearance where the story wasn’t so near to the top. The verdict on the court’s decision quickly captured people’s attention again, but the story is bound to fall back into a lull of ignorance, like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has.
It has been two years since the shooting at Sandy Hook. Since then, numerous school shootings have taken place within the US, but none have garnered the same amount of attention. The news of the story and the victims’ young age inspired protests and vows to make changes, but these changes didn’t materialize.
Yet people still only care when they see it fit. If the news doesn’t make a story a big deal, then the story is ignored. Eric Garner died of an illegal chokehold by a New York City police officer in July of this year, but the story has only begun receiving attention because of its relevance to the Ferguson case.
Social media helps and hurts the process. It lets news to be spread quickly and gives people in the area a way to effectively communicate and congregate, but it can also cause problems, like informing police about demonstrations.
But do people stop caring about news because the stories get pushed further back as the heat of the moment passes, or does news anticipate the gradual disinterest and stop promoting recurring stories?
Important, ongoing stories are often put on reserve to make room for new stories. It keeps people entertained and feel like they are on top of current events where as they are really just jumping from one topic to the next without going into terrible depth about any particular case.
Before everyone was on social media, news traveled at much slower. Today, social media allows people to communicate instantly, sharing news as it happens. While this makes people more aware of issues, a new event tends to overshadow another, decreasing the continued attention one may need. Don’t lose interest in an important story because the coverage stops.