With a constant stream of news, information and minutiae saturating our waking hours, how do we adjust our filters to know what to retain and commemorate as the “important” stuff that happens?
Katelyn Belyus of The Nation asks this pertinent question in her article “Maintaining Your Niche in a Fragmented Media Environment.”
Belyus shares her family’s history of saving newspapers clippings to mark momentous occasions, saying, “I have an unsettling fear that I will forget a moment if I bear no tangible evidence of it. Moments were documented as chosen flashpoints in time, important events that we could remember even when we forgot.”
Contrasting this with the hyper-documentation of seemingly everything that happens, from the breakfast burrito to last call, she asks, “But what happens when we saturate our world with details of our everyday lives? Do newsworthy moments even count anymore to the formation of identity, or do they become cultural jetsam, byproducts on our way to becoming the next Snooki or Honey Boo Boo?”
It’s a valid and important question, especially for publishers who are responsible for choosing the material that is “important” enough in some way to make its way into their publications.
So how do we determine what is meaningful? Belyus thinks it comes down to putting the events into meaningful context.
“The trick is to create meaningful experiences for people living in a world glutted with information, through carefully selected (buzzword alert: ‘curated’) content and longer, more introspective pieces.”
That’s a good start, but the article opens more questions than it answers. As publishers we need a good eye and a firm red line to sort the wheat from the chaff, and even then we don’t always get it right. But we keep trying, with our readers’ experiences top-most in the decision-making, to add context and meaning to an over-documented world.