amw (amw) wrote,

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who chooses your headlines?

One of the things i find really fascinating about being a news nerd is seeing which stories bubble to the top.

It's no secret that my go-to source these days is The Guardian. I don't read WaPo any more because it's paywalled, which irks me on principal, even though i am a paid subscriber of several other sites. Since the blogosphere died i only follow FiveThirtyEight and The Daily Intelligencer, which has scooped up Jonathan Chait, Andrew Sullivan and several other oldskool bloviators. I also check in on Ta-Nehisi Coates and friends over at The Atlantic from time to time. Aside from that i follow North American anarchist news on It's Going Down and the odd mix of indigenous and midwestern stuff that Unicorn Riot reports on. I also keep up with tech news on The Register, Technode (China-focused) and Rock Paper Shotgun (gaming). I pay for Bill Bishop's daily Sinocism (China-focused) newsletter and also dip into SCOTUSblog, Lawfare and various other ultra-nerdy specialized publications when i am feeling masochistic. Of course i still poke my head into local newspapers when something i'm interested in happens in their area too.

Which is all to say i feel i have a relatively broad view, but The Graun is my anchor - a daily read. In fact, it's more than daily. I check the headlines and read articles in the morning before i get out of bed, i check in again over lunch, then after work on the bus home, then in bed just before i shut my eyes. I am a news junkie and a shameless Guardianista.

The Guardian has three editions that you may not notice if you just casually visit: US, UK and International. The US and UK editions are hideously parochial, but the International one is more interesting both story-wise and for its meta properties. Following the front page over 24 hours provides a nifty insight into how the media works. Just this morning at 8am sharp, the front page switched up to lead with 4 articles on Xi Jinping, censoring the letter "N" and the proposed constitutional amendments that were discussed this week. It's almost like they knew i was going to wake up and want to read a Sunday morning recap while the laundry was on.

Because of course they did. In this timezone Hong Kong, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia are all full of English speakers just waking up for their Sunday morning read. Of course we want to read about what's going on in China. In a few hours suddenly the front page will change to lead with the EU and Brexit. A bit later on it will be Trump Time. I'm not sure where India/Pakistan or Anglophone Africa fits in - there's still work to be done there - but you can definitely see how the editors cater to the audience.

This prioritizing of certain topics for the front page is especially noticeable on the weekend, when it's clear many of the articles are written ahead of time and there is generally less breaking news to report on. But even during the week you'll get a link to the UK/Brexit liveblog bumped to the front page for a certain window before the US/Trump liveblog takes its spot. East/Southeast Asia and the Pacific, apparently we don't get a liveblog unless it's the Winter Olympics. That's okay.

It makes me wonder about people who only check the news once a day, or even less regularly. Do most readers even scroll down below the virtual fold? Do they ever find out about the stories that didn't bubble up to the front page during the window that their region had top booking? And how does that impact their view of the world?

I guess i should remember most people don't read the paper at all.

It's funny that reading the paper has become my biggest hobby, definitely in the sense of hours per day sunk into it. Turns out i'm my parents.
Tags: news

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