Instagram news is getting sillier; just take a look at the Washington Post

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

When I think of the most reputable newspapers in the country, I first think of the New York Times and the Washington Post. To me, those are the top-tier journalistic sources — the papers that people subscribe to across the country, not just those living in New York City or Washington D.C. They are so recognizable that they are the only two papers whose slogans I know off the top of my head: “All the News That’s Fit to Print” and “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” This just goes to show that these two papers are some of the most popular in the country.

The emergence of social media completely changed how people consume news. Today, about half of all Americans get some of their news from social media. This might come directly from accounts run by independent journalists (or by anybody, really), but big newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post have also created curated news feeds on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok. Since my most-used social media platform is Instagram, I am very familiar with both the New York Times and Washington Post Instagram pages. But recently, the Washington Post has been generating some unconventional news content that is worth further investigation.

At first glance, the profile page of the Washington Post seems normal — it follows a consistent format of text style with a mix of photographs and digital art to support the headlines. However, after a bit of scrolling, some non-traditional news stories begin to appear. Interspersed between posts about climate change, politics, and culture are posts detailing what some would consider weird or wacky news. Some of my favorite posts in this category include “Life as a national mustache champion: ‘I drink a lot more stuff with straws,’” “TSA found a gun inside a raw chicken,” and “A mayor in England is fighting for his office. He’s also a pony.” This type of news is certainly not what one would expect to find on the front page of one of the most prominent newspapers in the country, leading to the question: Has the Washington Post become too silly?

Personally, I have to answer that no, the Washington Post has not become too silly. These days, it is easy to get overwhelmed with bad news. Reports of death, destruction, and irreparable regression of the human race are almost everywhere I look. So for the Washington Post to publish a few lighthearted stories about funny goings-on is not a crime. Rather, it offers a respite from the seriousness of today’s world.

The eye-catching headlines also help engage more audiences with journalism. For example, someone might see a more frivolous post from the Washington Post and decide to follow their account, thus exposing them to more robust journalism in their feed and helping them become informed global citizens. In a way, the Washington Post may be generating more followers with their tactic of covering lighthearted news as well as traditional news. We could all do with a little more laughter in our lives and the Washington Post is merely helping us get there.