What’s black, white and “red” all over? Sadly, it is no longer the newspaper. The digital age is proving to be experimental times for journalism.
In 2011 alone, 152 newspaper organizations stopped the presses indefinitely while online newspapers and magazines saw more business. Newsweek transformed into an online publication last year after nearly 80 years of weekly distribution.
I believe The Huffington Post, an online news source, was the new kid on the block but has established leadership in journalism since it started up eight years ago.
Alas, HuffPo is one of hundreds, if not thousands of websites seeking to introduce information to the masses. This is a reality that traditional journalists, especially veterans, are facing and being forced to conform to.
Some may argue that journalists as a whole are losing sight of their purpose in the field with easier access to information.
Others rebut with the fact that the world wide web is a vital tool in seeking truth and digging for answers. Regardless, the current is too strong for anyone to defy, so we have no choice but to work with it.
I can appreciate both sides of the debate. Together, Google and Siri are my two partners in crime, my BFF’s, my right hand sidekicks. But very seldom do I find what I’m looking for on the first try. Avoiding the clutter that is false information is like Sandra Bullock dodging the space debris in “Gravity.”
John H. McManus, author of Detecting Bull, wrote, “We’re drowning in news and views, yet parched for relevant, trustworthy reports of current issues and events, especially those closest to home. The signal is becoming lost in the noise.”
What infuriates me even more is that we sit there and take it. The modern world is inundated with technology and mechanisms that deliver everything to our fingertips, yet we aren’t letting it reach its maximum potential.
We don’t question what is spewing out of our computer monitors. We don’t inquire about what we hear on the TV as we brew coffee in the morning.
We absorb. We process for a few seconds, and carry on. The digital age is allowing the growing media to manipulate our minds, robbing us of the democratic power we have as American citizens. As people. As humans.
The amount of material that picks our brains and turns our wheels is dwindling at a rapid pace.
So how do we move forward as viewers and readers? How do I move forward as a journalist?
It’s easy to mock Senator Ted Cruz from our couches at home. A 21-hour filibuster littered with carefully articulated remarks such as, “I like their little burgers … I’m a big fan of eating White Castle burgers,” and, “Twenty years from now, if there is some obscure trivial pursuit question, I am confident I will be the answer,” is too difficult to pass up.
However, after the initial hooplah over his ridiculous monologue, we never discussed what he should have said.
Instead of reading “Green Eggs and Ham,” what else could he have read that would be relevant to pleading his case? How do Nazi’s really compare to the Affordable Care Act? These are the questions that we should be asking. These are the answers that we should be seeking.
It’s daunting to know that this is what I’m facing come graduation in May. I’m confident when I say that journalism is my calling. In fact, I’m arrogant about it. But it hurts knowing the state that it is in when I know what it used to be, and what it can be. What’s worse is every journalist knows exactly what I’m talking about. I’ll be damned if they claim any of the above as false.
McManus nails it on the head. “Life depends on information.”
Let’s change the way we consume it to better the way news organizations deliver it.
Kattey Ortiz can be contacted at email@example.com