Image via freshbrewedlife.com
Last week an article was published in The New York
Times about Buzzfeed's announcement that it is formally dividing its news and entertainment divisions.
This news drives speculation that there could be a selloff of the news division, though Buzzfeed denies this, saying instead that the split encourages better focus on video creation where its biggest advertising dollars come from.
"The move also reflects a broader shift at media companies that are increasingly turning to video and entertainment news to lure a younger generation and attract online advertising dollars."
What is happening here? Why is news not important to digital audiences? I realize that our attention spans have significantly lessened, largely thanks to mobile phones, apps, social media, and the new need for instant everything, but this idea that audiences in general would rather watch mindless "Tasty" content than learn about what is going on in the world confounds me.
Sure it's much more instantly gratifying watching cats fall off of things or hot cheese melt about on top of nachos, but it screws you over in the long term. It's kind of like not studying for life, except instead of failing a pop quiz we screw up our personal finances with stupid credit card debt because we didn't realize the interest rate or didn't understand what was in that ETF when we got involved with a robo-investor or blindly allow our country to be run in a direction we're not comfortable with.
Now, I don't want to be a hypocrite; until recently I was rather ignorant about most of this stuff. That changed in 2013 when I became frustrated with not understanding finance and took the Canadian securities exams (CSC), and the prep course BCIT offers that goes along with it. Boom, insta-knowledge.
Just kidding. It actually look about nine months of classroom time, a ton of studying, and two stressful exams. Now that might be taking things a bit far, but taking a keen interest in finance is insanely important unless you're going to hire someone to manage your pile of money for you.
I have a bit of an obsession for Tumblr (see mine here). I also love Pinterest, but Tumblr is fun because it shows you things that you're not expecting to see based on who you follow, like Instagram, but less personal and more inspirational. Anyway, just a moment ago, this god awful picture showed up in my feed (and now I'm rethinking my love for the platform... And who I follow).
I don't hate it because there's gratuitous nipple showing, I hate it because it shows two things: one, Kim is very much wanting to outdo her younger sisters and remain relevant and absolutely doing it in the wrong way, and two, that our culture values this kind of sensational press more than it does stories that promote smarts. To be clear, I am not hating on Kim, though honestly I am judging her decision here -- isn't she taking things waayyy too far? Way too far.
Why is it that there is more interest generated by fandom than there is by our country's economy? Why, as millennials, are we generally more interested in Hollywood and pop culture than we are about curating our own personal finances? Is it because our attention spans are too short to focus on the complexities of the world around us? Are we too easily bored?
We're going to inherit this economy pretty soon, sooner than we think and by then it may be too late. That sounded a bit depressing, but I think it's true. The decisions that are made and policies put in place that determine the future of health care, taxes, our rights as citizens, cost of living, and much more are being made by people who are generally quite out of touch with what we are going to need and want in ten, twenty, thirty years. And frankly, I think they must be laughing at us, the general public, "look at how easy it is to distract them while we do things that benefit us!" That may be quite cynical but isn't it also entirely possibly true?
Time changes things and certainly the decision makers (politicians, bankers, high-powered executives), in place today have a far different agenda than we do. Life for them has been far different than it is for us today. Arguably, it has been easier for boomers to accumulate wealth than it now is and will be for us. Case in point: thirty years ago buying a home was fairly easy to manage (in comparison to today's real estate markets), and its value only soared to become an incredibly lucrative investment. Jealous.
A friend said to me the other day, "You love newspapers, hey?" I responded, "yes, yes I do" (because I do -- have you seen my instagram?). Then she asked me, genuinely, "but you do actually read them?" to which I replied, "yes, yes I do." It can be tedious work, it can be depressing and they can get your fingers all covered in newsprint, but it is important to know what's what.
As millennials, we have a lot of power and we need to flex it to ensure that the future is properly set up for us. I am hoping that The Paper & Coffee can help with that. Finance, economics, and politics are challenging and complex subjects and a distillation of what's going on sans jargon or expert-speak is much needed to help democratize information. That is The Paper & Coffee's mission. The bottom line is, news matters, being smart is cool and we need to pay better attention.
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