Here’s a question worth asking: why does contemporary news come in list-form? It used to be we’d get the occasional, yearly ‘Top 10 Albums’, ‘Top 10 Movies’, ‘Top 10 Books’ lists, and so on. In recent years, though, the practice of utilizing lists became somewhat of a go-to platform for authors of popular culture. Lists ranking a year’s most entertaining television shows evolved into indexed accounts of where to find the most delicious nonfat lattes in southern California. If you were wondering why giraffes should be your favorite animal, Buzzfeed can give you 22 reasons (this is not a criticism of Buzzfeed by any means, though I do have to say, there are probably more than 22 reasons that giraffes should be our favorite animal). If you wanted facts on mail-order brides, there’s a list for that. If you were wondering which booze-popsicles people (ahem, adults 21+) tend to favor, there’s a list for that.
But this is not news.
Lately, venerated news sources have taken to utilizing lists in their disclosure of new and culturally relevant information. World news, international politics, economic updates and forecasts, can all be found in this catalogued format, should a reader so desire. This begs a few questions. Are we, as readers, to take these news points as having been ranked in some way? Or are writers and reporters assigning arbitrary precedence to current news?
This is not a condemnation of modern reportage. It is merely an observation of a rapidly growing trend. The overarching question here, is why? Why are news outlets laying out articles in this way? Do we, as readers, prefer lists to paragraphs?
This is a question I’d like to explore further.
So. With that being said, I’d like to invite you, readers, to participate in a little study. Do you prefer your news in list or paragraph form? And why? Please email answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.