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Friday, August 28, 2009

Information Overload

Recently due to the Typhoon Morakot, I would watch a few minutes of the local morning news on television before I leave for work. The news programs are prime examples of information overload. Below is a shot of the morning news on the TVBS news channel.

I can count ten different things on the screen at the same time: 1. vertical scroll; 2. anchor woman presenting a story that has nothing to do with the headlines or the scrolls; 3. name of the show; 4. channel logo; 5. headline of a local newspaper; 6. time; 7. stock market index; 8. upper horizontal scroll; 9. bottom horizontal scroll; and 10. headline of another local newspaper. Each of the 10 pieces of information mentioned above have nothing to do with each other.

This bombardment of information has become the norm. Below is a screen shot of the program on another news channel.

Similar to the other channel, this one has ten different things going on at the same time as well: 1. vertical scroll; 2. upper headline; 3. website for viewers to upload images; 4. anchor woman presenting a story; 5. name of the channel; 6. bottom horizontal scroll; 7. lower headline; 8. picture of a story that is different from the two headlines and what the anchor was presenting; 9. weather; 10. time.

It is as if the networks believe if they don't present all this information at once, the viewers will lose patience and switch channels. Or perhaps, television news programs have been influenced by the way information is distributed on the internet. Presenting all the information at once has made the news program on television incoherent and lacking any emphasis and focus. What makes things worse is most of the time there actually aren't too much news to report in Taiwan, therefore, the news program will simply repeat all the information every half hour or so.


  1. Those screen shots really do look like web pages. It's as if you're logging into a website, and you can read whatever you want, or you can listen to the anchor if you feel like it, but you don't have to. I would think this actually encourages people to turn it on, find the information they want and then turn it off right away, instead of waiting for the news you want to come up. I would think this actually negatively impacts ratings.

    On the other side, it might be argued that people of our generation and above just don't understand the new way things are done. Kids today are much better parsing this "information overload" and taking what they need, or maybe just taking all of it in. Maybe we are just behind the times, and this is the reality of the future we will have to learn to live in.

  2. I think the main problem is that these news shows lose focus of who their main audiences are - middle-age to old age viewers who are not as good at parsing this "information overload."