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And knowing is half the battle

Posted by: | December 8, 2009 | 1 Comment |

Ask just about anyone if they think news is important, and they likely will agree that, yes, it is vital, though you might get some comments on how the talking heads can get too preachy or alter the news as they see fit.

News is an important resource to everyone, from a subsistence farmer to a king.  It is vital because it is knowledge, and without knowledge, we, well, we wouldn’t really know anything, would we?

News’ importance to us exists for a few specific reasons though.

Human Contact

It may be strange to think of it as such, but news is a sort of human contact, even if it is often a one-way street.  Whether one is reading a newspaper, a blog item, listening to the radio or watching one of the aforementioned talking heads, information is being delivered, or exchanged if the news is being told person to person.

One of the most basic needs a person has is the need of human contact, to feel connected with others.  It can be comforting to know there are others out there, to know we are not alone.

We’ve seen this in a number of places in A History of News, but one that stands out is the example of how the British all rushed off to their coffeehouses to talk about the news.  Yes, the exchange of the news, the gossip at times, was a factor in the popularity, but so too was going to such coffeehouses and talking with other people, to hear opinions, to have contact with others.

Hence, it is one of the reasons we people need the news.

Critical Information

Another reason people demand the news is because, at its most basic, news is information, and information can be very vital indeed.  For the earlier mentioned farmer, it would be good for him to know if, say, there’s an increased demand for corn so he can adjust his crops accordingly or that a storm is coming to help his parched fields.  Similarly using the earlier mentioned king, it would be good for him to know if the king from that neighboring country that he thought was an ally is now marshaling an army on his border.

Knowledge is very important in many situations.  Sometimes people can make assumptions and act on them, but most will likely agree that it is wise to know something about a situation before acting.  News is the avenue that much information takes, hence we demand for it.

Now We Know

News is of vital importance to people.  Many may not know it, but they do know of it, at least in a sense, when it is absent.  They demand, they seek, and they will find it, because, as Francis Bacon once said, knowledge is power.

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