The Grammy’s is a night to celebrate musicians and award their accomplishments. Viewers tune in to see who wins, who looses, who gets snubbed, and my favorite – the fashion. Any of these things can become viral news in today’s day and age. But how does something at an event like the Grammy’s become newsworthy?
Cue: Taylor Swift.
Why did everyone know about Taylor Swift’s Grammy speech immediately after it happened and why did they continue to talk about it on almost every news outlet, radio show and blog. Most importantly, why did we pay attention? Seriously, I’m not a fan but yet she had my attention.
Was it simply because so many people covered it? Was it the correspondents and newspapers that analyzed it? Or was it something a lot simpler? In chapter 4 of Mitchel Stephens History of News he makes the argument that in pre-literate societies, writing didn’t matter. News is fast and writing was slow. Slow, because writing on clay tablets took a lot more time than telling your neighbor what happened.
I’m a strong believer in the saying ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’. With that phrase in mind, I began to question the way that I thought about news and how it spreads. Why was I immediately in the loop about Taylor Swift, and artist who don’t follow?
The answer is simple, word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth in today’s society looks differently than it did in pre-literate societies, but operates quite the same. One person tells another person, it’s overheard and it’s shared. In this day and age, it’s the sharing of a post, Tweeting, re-tweeting, instagramming, more simply put – social media. Yes, you can argue that all of those are forms of writing, but it’s not the writing that makes something news, but the sharing of such. It’s the people tuning in, finding it interesting, and sharing it online in mass amounts. It’s someone in your office talking about it because they heard about it, you overhearing, and checking it out.
So, while writing is important, it’s the impact of the writing and it’s reach that makes it truly newsworthy.