Whats wrong with news media?

Hello again.

First off, stuff I’d like to invite you to visit lotSAreviews. My darling wife’s new website that is:

…a subtle humour review blog where the custard pies are more like crème brulée. Opinions backed by solid research involving porridge pots, disappearing cats, and a highly eccentric toddler


Pretoria Photomarathon
Some of you couldn’t participate in the Johannesburg Photomarathon because you were ‘doing’ the Design Indaba. Well Pretoria will have its very own Photomarathon on 8 September. Of course simply imitating the Jo’burg event wouldn’t do so the 2007 Pretoria Photomarathon includes a digital video category. See http://photographysa.com/blogger/2007/05/more-on-2007-pretoria-photomarathon.asp

Pretoria & Durban 27Dinner
Speaking of events inter-city migrating, 27Dinner – the regular informal networking get-together of media/marketing/geek types – is launching instances of itself in Durban on the 27th of July and in Pretoria on the 27th of August. Although open to anyone seats are kind-of limited and seats for the Johannesburg and Cape Town events typically fill up a week or two before the event. To get in put your name on the appropriate list at http://27dinner.pbwiki.com/ – highly recommended.

Another punt for good measure, do you know what Mrs Balls Hot Chutney has to do with thermo-pads, SA rugby and Google Adsense?


Finally, for those of you who consider me a friend – whether we’ve actually met in the real world or not – I’ll be having a little get-together at a coffee-shop in Norwood this Sunday, 10am-ish (how one’s paradigms can shift…:-), to celebrate my b-day. RSVP for the venue details. andre@pixelplexus.co.za

One imagines that ‘News’ is the stuff worth knowing, online but instead the news feeds us the stuff that sticks out, nurse the sore thumbs of life. I love the observation Max Kaizen makes in reversing the brain.drain… “… especially after the numbing effect of news. The news presented by mainstream media, prostate (TV & papers particularly) is largely reactive, and leaves us feeling impotent to change the outcome of almost everything we’re offered.

She recommends reading Neil Postman‘s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

I think that observation is spot on, at least in terms of why the “News” is so incredibly depressing – the whole after the fact-ness. That there is F-all you can do about it except be grateful it is not you being written about – in most cases. Maybe the “News 2.0″ approach the folk of The Times are chasing will change all this. One can and should hope, and maybe do something to encourage it. Then “News” could be less show-bizz and more community fellowship – even bring us a little close step by step to those elusive ideals we most-all yearn for – the stuff that we want “Democracy” to be.

Let’s look at today’s top local on-line news headlines via some of the results of a Google of “South Africa News” ( I didn’t see The Times in the top 30 results, seems some SEO work still required. Though I’m including them and Reporter.co.za to give UGC initiatives some representation)


  1. 3 killed crossing railway line
  2. Crime down, Selebi tells CNN
  3. Durban ambulances suspended

  1. Hundreds gather at Sexwale leadership speech
  2. Manto: HIV down among pregnant women
  3. Mbeki documentary saga takes another twist

  1. Non-strikers’ cars vandalised
  2. Flooding shuts N7 on West Coast
  3. Three die trying to cross train line

  1. Three, including pregnant woman, killed by train in Mayfair
  2. Police continue search for missing child
  3. Rand down on a stronger dollar
The Times:

  1. Ministers jeered at Kalafong
  2. Flooding shuts N7 highway
  3. Three killed in train accident

  1. Please don’t criminalise spanking!
  2. SA Cricket has lost its shine
  3. Memorial service for Manu
  4. (Bonus:)Five die in horror accident
This is no way to start your day!

So the question is, how many of these articles do you think includes some kind of call-to-action inviting readers to contribute in some way to addressing the woes and traumas that are spicing up their morning coffee? E.g. click here to donate toward building pedestrian bridges etc. I think that will be my suggestion for our news-media practitioners – don’t just stop at user contributed content but innovate ways of facilitating User Generated Involvement not just in the media but in the real world that the media, and the rest of us feed on.

Max is starting a new weekly series on SARocks that me thinks is going to make for a most excellent read, go check it out.

In the meantime…

5 thoughts on “Whats wrong with news media?

  1. WRT seo on TheTimes. The Times is a relatively new domain and will more than likely be sandboxed for sometime before being displayed on serps. However there are already a umber of pages getting indexed, and the blogs are doing incredibly well.
    of course SEO is going to play a part of the strategy, but unfortunately no one can escape the sandbox.

    Its still early days. Watch this space ;-)

  2. True true, though I was surprised that sundaytimes.co.za didn’t come up higher – but I suppose that will change :-)

  3. Andre thank you so much for picking this up.
    [So glad to have come back to your corner of the digital neighbourhood again BTW :: rocking content!]
    It’s been one of the issues that truly bears us down and only serves to increase insecurity. We all know that we don’t get out of this game alive. But it’s a damn fine idea to focus a little more on those who make their lives a powerful expression of success by changing the world for good than those who’ve been conned, slaughtered or met some terrifying end.
    I’m just sickened by the constant pipeline of grisly tales that are addictive because they give us social currency and an emotional/physiological rush.. but it also evokes learned helplessness; where you at at the mercies of accident and crooked leadership.
    It’s like alcohol, which effectively is mild poison, but it shifts us out of our world for a little while.

    Self-righteousness, shock or frustration that we get from the news fodder is the junk-food on which we’ve fed for long enough.

    There are ways out of here.
    There are trailblazers.
    I want to hang out with, read about and celebrate the lives of those people.

    So looking forward to more fun.times & coming up to the bug.bad city & hanging out with y’all. Lots of inspiring creatures toddling around the Highveld!

  4. Pingback: Does keeping up with ‘the news’ make us into paranoid parents who cripple their kids? | lotSAreviews

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