What Makes News, “News?”

I saw something on the front page thingy (I really don’t know what to call it – most of it is rarely news) of Yahoo! today and one of the headlining topics was about a Japanese visual-kei artist named Yohio.

Yohio – image credit: jmusicitalia.com

Framing the video segment by Odd News Videos was a picture of a woman, but as one would later discover, it was actually a “boy dressed as a girl.” The video went on about how this was “odd news..” and that was about it. Nothing more could be said than “that girl you see? It’s a boy! gasp/shock/faint/whaaaat?”

First, I hate news pieces that are presented in video format. That might have framed the rest of this semi-rant but bear with me.

Second, I think something is wrong with our society today if stuff like this is still considered “news.” Yohio was definitely not the first person to do this. GACKT and Mana, who were both Japanese and from Malice Mizer (look them up if you want) all did this in the 90′s. Maybe it’s surprising because it’s news from an entirely different culture or realm of entertainment. Maybe it’s important because I suppose countless men and women felt tricked and betrayed when they realized that their boners/lady-boners were being misplaced. However, I think news should be akin to something like the fact that in 2011, Eguchi Aimi of the Japanese girl group AKB48 (which currently has 64 members – wow!) was revealed to be computer generated as a composite of 6 other members (you can look that up too).

Aimi Eguchi, with a full bio! – image credit: asianoffbeat.com

This is after months of her being in magazine spreads and even in a commercial. Doesn’t that make you think a little more about the future of entertainment, or the scary advancements we’ve made in technology? Of course, it’s all about how you present the news. It can be either a distraction or it can change you, spark something in you.

News should create conversation and have the individual reconsider their view on life or misheld beliefs. News should give us an idea of where things are going in the future. News should dig deeper about why certain things make news, or why we are reacting the way we do. News has to be “new,” and it should change us, make us read differently – it’s stale when it starts being about things we can gossip about for a week and forget about. Nothing changes.

Odd News Videos really could have gone somewhere with that piece. They could have discussed, even briefly, why this news was surprising to us, how we are still uncomfortable with women dressing as men and men dressing as women, or how we still cling to these gender norms and expectations that dictate what is considered “normal” or how what is appropriate attire. Maybe they could have touched on what this (could have) meant for the future of entertainment if western entertainment drew from, say, visual kei.

But maybe I shouldn’t be blaming them. Maybe I should be blaming the reader/myself for not being able to draw more from these tidbits of news naturally. So all I’m saying is this: they might fail to bring you the news but if we can’t change that, we can certainly think critically and make it news. Jesus on a piece of bread can always turn into a commentary on society today and our fixation on religion and consumerism (or whatever you’d like.) And as such, Yohio can be more than just a “boy dressing up as a girl.”

P.S. Here’s that Eguchi Aimi girl. Thoughts?

About writinginmy

vegan, English, UC Berkeley'14
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2 Responses to What Makes News, “News?”

  1. says:

    I have noticed this as well. It’s getting more and more extreme. But let’s think this through…..

    Have you actually read Yahoo’s definition of what constitutes ‘news’ and checked it against YOUR definition of what constitutes ‘news’?

    Or have you just ASSUMED Yahoo thinks the stuff it labels ‘news’ (or puts next to other stuff it calls ‘news’) really is news?!

    You see, I think you have made an assumption: that Yahoo really is trying to provide you with news, but is failing to do a very good job of it.

    But isn’t that a bit like assuming MacDonalds really is trying to take care of your nutritional requirements but failing to do a very good job of it?

    My question to you would be: what is that assumption based on? Have you signed a contract with Yahoo for them to provide you with proper ‘news’ (with ‘news’ clearly defined in the contract)? I don’t think so.

    This all may seem pedantic but it’s easy to forget that Yahoo (or any other similar website) is really there just to make MONEY through ADVERTISING. It’s whole business model is based on providing services (email etc) as well as trivial, eye catching, ‘grabby’ and even titillating bits of information all of which will cause you (the web user) to stay on Yahoo as long as possible and in doing so subject yourself to the maximum amount of their advertising.

    In fact I’ve noticed a lot more of those Yahoo ‘advice’ features creeping in (“How to cook the perfect Spaghetti Bolognese” …..”What not to say on a first date” etc) and when you look closely you see that they’re actually sponsored by corporations with adverts running up and down the margins. Presumably Yahoo and its advertisers work very much in partnership to create the perfect synergy of ‘news features’ and adverts.

    Stepping back and looking at the big picture, it also makes business sense for a web company like Yahoo to encourage its readers to regard light hearted, trivial, nonsense as ‘news’ rather than heavy, big, important information about real world events which would provoked deep thinking and a more sober attitude.

    If Yahoo made its front page very serious and grave (or just more grown up!) its web users would feel more mature and serious when they visited, and the advertising would look more out of place and be less effective.

    In plain terms it’s in Yahoo’s interests to dumb its users down and fill their heads with endless stream of celeb trivia and other frivolous, titillating crap!

    The pretence of supplying us with ‘news’ is just that……. a pretence.

    • says:

      Yes, it’s all about money. Yahoo! is making money off of advertising, but it’s not without knowing what the public wants. I also understand that it’s not really Yahoo’s goal to provide “real news.”

      I should have been more clear, but I was also writing from the perspective of the fact that the public in general regards this as news, and that the public in general will take soundbites and tidbits at face value, listen to what is said to them without reconsideration. If the suppliers fail to give us “real news” because of their money-grabbing tendencies, the readers also fail to process it critically. The readers stay reined in.

      I suppose my point is that regardless of what is “news” and isn’t, and no matter who is supplying it to us in whatever form or for whatever purpose, readers have the responsibility and power to not only see that but to also read differently so that news can become “real news.” That can be the first step away from considering garbage = news, and the first step away from Yahoo! if you’d like. If I didn’t fully respond to your reply, please let me know! I’m a little drowsy..

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