Audio Transcript

OPENING: Narration – background context and introduction

[0:00] BBC News, “2022’s biggest stories…in 74 seconds”

In the past few decades, the world has experienced a great amount of political issues and violence. The United States alone has been subjected to a large portion of these issues, which have primarily consisted of gun violence and political tensions with foreign countries. 2022 alone was a consequential year for America, when the Supreme Court case of Roe versus Wade was overturned for the first time in 50 years in June and gun violence, specifically mass shootings, reached historical rates.

At the global scale, climate change heightened around the world, posing a threat to the health and safety of all life. One of the most notable international crises that occurred was the war between Russia and Ukraine. The conflict elevated to a full-blown invasion of Ukraine, when in February of 2022 Russian troops crossed borders and began bombing cities and harming Ukrainian civilians. 

[0:50-1:50] NARRATOR: Paramore, a popular American rock band, has recently spoken out about these issues in the news cycle in a song from their newest album This Is Why, called “The News.” The song was originally released as a single in 2022, and was composed by the three band members themselves, which includes lead vocalist Hayley Williams, drummer Zac Farro, and guitarist Taylor York. The band also released a music video for the song, which features Haley Williams as the main character. In the music video, the viewer witnesses the detrimental effects of information consumption through the 24 hour news cycle. It tells the story of how an average media consumer can be affected both mentally and physically by the news cycle. 

One major global conflict that took over the news in 2022 was the war between Ukraine and Russia. Users were forced to watch the events unfold through their screens, as many news platforms provided minute-by-minute updates of the conflict. It was in February of 2022 when Russian troops crossed Ukrainian borders and began bombing cities and harming civilians. Paramore makes reference to this event and what it was like as a consumer in the opening verse of their song: 

“War / A war / A war / On the far side / On the other side of the planet”

[1:55-3:00] NARRATOR: The news has become a key source of media consumption for many Americans. Nowadays, it can be received through a variety of sources, whether it be on television, on the radio, or through social media platforms like Twitter, and has become easily accessible to all users of technology. However, the 24-hour news cycle has become a vicious medium in the world of mass communication. Many different channels and sites have become sources for the spread of misinformation, disinformation, false political agendas, and overall general biased views of information that can lead to the manipulation of consumers. 

The lyrics express great disdain and are very critical of the news, especially in regards to pop culture, consumerism, and the nature in which different news outlets will distribute their information. This is shown through several verses in the song that describe the news as seemingly fraudulent and deceptive to consumers:

“Exploitative / Performative / Informative / And we don’t know the half of it 

Rhetorical / Deplorable / Historical / And all along we call it normal” (x2)

[3:15-4:00]  NARRATOR: The lyrics also allude to news platforms exploiting such events to promote their own political agendas. During many times of crises, organizations will act as third party channels to collect and deliver donations to individuals or communities in need. Especially during the war between Ukraine and Russia, many different organizations promoted the assistance of Ukraine across different news platforms. CNBC specifically promoted a variety of “top-rated” charities that have been providing support to Ukraine on their website

Other lyrics of “The News” additionally describe what it is like to be on the receiving end of such violent and graphic information through the news, specifically in regards to war, and how donating to such organizations in an attempt to help those in need can take an emotional toll on users. 

“Far / I’m far / So far / From a front line / Quite the opposite, I’m safe inside” 

“But I worry and I give money / And I feel useless behind this computer / And that’s just barely scratched the surface of my mind”

[4:50-6:00]  NARRATOR: In today’s digital age of technology, anything can be posted to the internet without being checked for validity. It takes no more than a minute to log on to any social media platform and voice your opinions or thoughts on any topic. This has led to a rise in the prevalence of misinformation, which simply put is just false or incorrect information. In a 2023 study performed by the Journal of Consumption Markets and Culture, it was analyzed how misinformation leads to the creation of false beliefs and conspiracy theories.

Although most conspiracy theories only exist in online communities, there are a few examples of theories that have sparked physical violence by believers. In 2016, a man by the name of Edgar Madison Welch fired a large rifle inside of a pizza shop in Washington, D.C. that was believed to be the center of a baseless conspiracy widely known in the media as “Pizzagate.” This theory accused many famous political figures of being involved in a human trafficking ring that involved children. 

This eventually resulted in an FBI investigation, and is an infamous example of how the spread of misinformation in the media can cause real world harm and physically endanger citizens. This can also be related to the idea portrayed in Paramore’s “The News” that it is easy for media users to be manipulated by the information they receive through their screens. 

[6:00-7:00]  NARRATOR: In an interview with the band, hosted by Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Hayley Williams goes into further details about the creative and lyrical choices for the song. She describes her own experiences as a technology user living in a world where the media she consumes is constantly filled with violence and tragedy.

“Well, for us it started with the tornado in Nashville, but there was the tornado and then there was the global pandemic. There was George Floyd, there were all these uprisings, there were marches and protests that we went to. There was a bombing by a conspiracy theorist on Christmas Day in Nashville. It’s like we’re experiencing it from whatever vantage point we’re at, and there’s something to say about it. And I’m praying and hoping that the perspective and the lyrics that we’re presenting is personal enough and as much with respect to everyone’s specific or potential vantage point that maybe other people can relate to it in some way that we haven’t even intended.”

[7:00-7:50] CLOSING: In conclusion, Paramore’s new song “The News” has enabled the discussion in the music industry and media about the negative effects on media consumption through the 24-hour news cycle. Although the band had taken a 4-year hiatus leading up to the release of the song, Paramore is back in full swing with the discussion of many different political and social topics that have become important aspects in the world today throughout their new album This is Why. 

“Every second our collective heart breaks / All together every single head shakes / Shut your eyes but it won’t go away / Turn on, turn off, the news” (x2)