Working in media for over five years has taught me not all things are as they appear.
Whilst every news site may aim to report on fair, unbiased news without a hidden agenda, unfortunately, like many things today, a news site is a business with financial and audience targets.
Each month, an objective reporting body, known as Nielsen, releases a report outlining the performance and ranking of all Australian websites.
With each new report, publishers gather in hopes to hear their owned sites have taken out the number one spot in a particular category: news, sport, lifestyle etc.
Not only is it a great pat on the back for the teams working on that site for the month prior, but it doesn’t hurt for sales to sell a publication is the most-read news site in the country, either.
And here is where the problem lies.
The currency news sites trade on, is audience, that is, how many unique Australians visited that site during the last 30 days. The higher the audience number, the more people visited the site.
From an advertising perspective, this means if you have a message to share, whether it be a sale on cars to the latest grocery specials, you’d want to display your ads on a site that gets more eyeballs, right?
Are you wondering how you get more eyeballs? Well you write more content of course, and don’t forget the drama.
For quite sometime now, I’ve noticed that the news is often reported on more like an episode of Bold and the Beautiful than actual objective facts.
The use of sensationalised language and a doom-and-gloom tones hooks readers in and down the rabbit warren they go.
In the past fortnight, I’ve felt incredibly uneasy and anxious about everything I was reading and watching with a sense of hopelessness overcoming me.
I couldn’t tell you one piece of news other than that of virus-related, with my social feed rife with ‘expert’ opinions from journalists, influencers, chefs, bloggers etc. it’s easy to be swept up in the chaos.
It seems everyone has something to say about the current climate with little to no grounds to stand on.
Now in no way am I endorsing Trump at all but this notion of ‘fake news‘ isn’t just exclusive to his vernacular.
Take this blog for an example. I could write absolutely anything I wanted and could even potentially persuade you to change your behaviour towards a product, a restaurant or even your health, and yet who gave me this authority?
Everything I write on my blog is opinion and there is so much opinion-based content out there right now.
So what should you do if you too are feeling anxious and uneasy?
Move away from the big publishers and go straight to the source.
Download the Federal Government’s Coronavirus app straight from the app store to read press releases straight from Scomo himself.
You can also use WhatsApp to clear up any uncertainty about the restrictions and what you can and can’t be doing.
Here’s a step by step guide to using the Coronavirus Australia WhatsApp service:
Download WhatsApp onto your phone.
Add the government’s WhatsApp number into your WhatsApp contacts. The number is +61 400 253 787
Send the WhatsApp account a message.
You will receive a message back.
Follow the instructions to get the information you need.
As unprecedented these times are, we need to do our part more than ever, but this shouldn’t mean we’re rendered ill at ease and in despair that this will never end.
Take time for yourself to detox from the digital world and look around at what there is to be grateful for.
Make a list on your phone of the places you miss visiting, the friends you long to catch up with or the adventures and travels you plan on taking once we return to normal.
When this time becomes but another event that has occurred this year, whenever you’re not sure what to do, you’ll have a list ready and waiting.
Please reach out to me if you’d like to chat, catch up on house party, vent, cry or just reminisce about what was and what will be.
We’re all in this together.