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The Media

The New Mediascape 174

Posted by JonKatz
from the the-generational-divide-gets-wide-online dept.
A few years ago, more than 90% of all American households halted work and play every evening to catch the evening news. Now, millions of younger Americans never watch a commercial TV newscast, and are turning to new forms of media, many generated on the Net. Cable and newspapers haven't been hit as hard as commercial TV yet, but the generational media divide is now measurable. The Net is redrawing the mediascape.

These kids devouring information online are re-working the mediascape in cyberspace, creating an enormous generational information divide. Although we often talk of technology in sweeping terms, when it comes to real-world changes, technology-driven changes are highly selective. They sweep away some forms of media like a tidal wave, and inexplicably leave others standing unchanged. In the case of commecial broadcast news, dying for years, the Net is polishing it off.

A new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press documents two significant trends: Internet news is becoming ever more mainstream, yet growing numbers of Americans are losing the news habit altogether. Fewer people say they enjoy following the news regularly, at least as news is traditionally defined; more than half pay attention to national news only when something important is happening. More Americans than ever watch the news with remote control in hand, ready to flee stories they consider boring or irrelevant. This finding underscores the importance of that little wireless zapper, proving it to be one of the most political pieces of technology ever.

Regular viewership of network news has fallen from 38% to 30% in the past two years, while local news viewership declined from 64% to 56%. Yet fully one in three Americans go online for news at least once a week, compared to 20% two years ago. And 15% say they receive daily news reports from the Net, up 6%.

Among younger, better-educated American news consumers, the Internet's impact is even more dramatic. Many more college graduates under 50 hit the Net daily for news than regularly watch a nightly network newscast. In fact, the Pew survey finds that people who are interested in the news and go online tend to watch less TV news all the time (The rise of Net news and related formats have less impact on non-broadcast news, apparently. The Pew Center found little evidence that Net news significantly drives down regular use of cable news, daily newspapers or radio news.

It stands to reason, though, that as many of these traditional news media appear on the Net and Web themselves, their use among younger Americans is also likely to decline.

The survey underscores the impact of two powerful factors that drive Net news: interactivity and the rise of Open Media news outlets.

Younger Americans who've grown up using interactive technologies -- the zapper, Sega and Nintendo systems, cable channels, the Net -- are increasingly accustomed to tailoring their news consumption: they want information of particular interest to them, at the times they choose to receive it. They demand the right to alter the media they receive. Older Americans raised on passive, pre-interactive media -- papers, newsmagazines, TV news that offer few choices and little control -- are much more likely to stick with traditional news. Thus, the across-the-board aging audiences of TV, newspapers and many magazines.

The growth of Net news has had a stunning impact on the way Americans, particularly those with access to technology, get information on business and financial matters. According to the Pew study, for active investors -- those who have traded stocks within the past six months -- the Net has largely supplanted traditional media as the leading source for stock quotes and investment advice. Here, the power of Netizens to tailor their own media is enormous and profound. 58% of active traders told Pew pollsters that they have customized stock portfolios online.

This is a staggering statistic -- such portfolios didn't even exist a decade ago. Now they're one of the primary tools for a completely new kind of financial transaction -- e-trading. And a significant percentage of financial sites online also offer breaking news and commentary, reflecting and affecting the markets they deal in.

The generational divide concerning media has been speculated about for years, but it's now quite measurable: Fewer than one in three young adults (31%) say they enjoy keeping up with the news, while more than half (57%) of those age 50 and over say they do. Though younger consumers say they don't like the news as much, they say they do like having a wide variety of information sources from which to choose. Older Americans say they often feel overwhelmed by the increasingly crowded media landscape.

(Caveat: I think serious terminology problems arise when it comes to describing younger Americans' tastes in news. Just as many pollsters and journalists don't consider gaming a significant part of culture, entertainment and technology often aren't considered news. My own belief is that younger Americans, especially those on the Net, are actually information junkies, but the kinds of news they like and the form in which they receive it is very different from their parents' tastes and from the way news is defined by journalists and educators. The kids I encounter online devour enormous amounts of information on a daily basis. That makes sweeping descriptions of their information habits suspect.)

Commercial broadcast news has less function all the time; its looming demise should have been obvious for years. Cable, much more interactive, offers many more options, often in the informal, even satirical (you could watch the convention coverage of Comedy Central's "the "Daily Show" every night and learn much more about the political conventions than on any network), and flexible format that interactive news consumers expect and, increasingly, have grown up with. With news their primary offering, cable-news channels don't have to toss out expensive entertainment programming or advertising to present news. Cable news also pays less homage to outdated anchor formats that have suffocated traditional news presentation for years.

Open source, though a movement in software rather than media per se, has sparked much of the evolution of successful open media, because it introduced the idea of information sharing online. The Net, however, is spawning many new kinds of news media: Web logs, specialized sites like this one, information-sharing exchanges from Napster to Gnutella, messaging services relaying one-to-one news; wire service- like news providers like C-Net. Some are not considered "news" in the traditional sense. But they are very journalistic. They do offer news and information, not only daily but continuously, and about everything from finance to culture to quilting to pet care.

Since the dinosaur-like TV anchors ruled the media world a decade or so ago, the mediascape has become unrecognizable, a rapidly changing work-in-progress. The past decade demonstrates that nobody can predict the media future, only try to hang on and watch while it continues to evolve, and while younger news consumers construct a radically new kind of information system for the first time in centuries.

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The New Mediascape

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  • 1. What drugs do you take to generate the ideas for these articles? 2. Are you on the payroll of Andover.net? Thank you in advance. Looking forward to your response.
  • I prefer pull media like most of the Net[1] because if it's no good, you can choose to go elsewhere. This means if a media company wants to succeed, they'll have to compete based on their merit than on what is basically a captive audience.

    Hi, I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Remote Control and his seldom seen older brother, Mr. Television Dial. Through the magical service that they provide it has now become possible to actually *Change*The*Channel* if you don't like what you are watching.

    If you think about it, the internet is just as 'push'y as television. It's just that on the internet there are a hell of a lot more people pushing.

    daniel

  • by Eccles (932)
    but the only useful data I ever get are comics (another medium increasingly being replaced by the online version-go sluggy!)

    I used to read on-line comics a fair bit, but I've found that the click-traversal time is just too much. If I could get them all from a long web page, even with an ad or two mixed in, I would prefer my comics this way; but for now, paper is still easier. (And higher quality images too.)
  • Thank you, Captain Obvious, for alerting me.
  • I don't see a problem with catching up on your own time. To a degree, that's the point of using the web as a news resource. No special bulletins, no cable news channels devoting 72 consecutive hours to a celebrity killed before his/her time. And unlike broadcast news, the web's delivery isn't time-bound. You don't have to wait for the anchor to ramble breathlessly for five minutes about how some patently obvious hazard is "dangerous to your children", just to hear a quick three sentence blurb about something genuinely newsworthy.

    The night Diana died was Bad Movie Night* for me and my friends. We were all headed out the door after the last movie, when someone stopped the tape to rewind. MSNBC happened to be on, and that's when we all heard that she was in an accident. Ended the evening on a down note. It wasn't until I got home that I heard that she was pronounced dead.

    I bumped into a friend late that week, and we were both amazed that MSNBC and CNN were still 24-hour, non-stop, all-Diana-all-the-time, even when there was nothing new to report. Broadcast media was absolutely worthless for two weeks after she died, because the networks didn't want to talk about anything else. That's when I really started using the web for news coverage. I could begrudge a news site an inch or so of screen space for Diana, because all I had to do was scroll down to get to the real news.

    ObSurvivor: I got some of the same thing here in Pittsburgh. Both WCBS and KDKA are owned and operated by CBS, so they probably had a mandate from the network to hype Survivor until they were blue in the face. Here, it was mostly through anchor banter and man-on-the-street sound bites as bumpers. And we didn't get the pre-show. Not that I gave a damn. After all, Bordello of Blood was on Comedy Central. :-)

    *: We'd get together at someone's apartment with adequate amounts of pizza, beverages, MST3K-fueled sarcasm, and a stack of Blockbuster's "finest" direct-to-video B-movie cheese. Brain-cell-killing fun for the whole family!

    Every day we're standing in a wind tunnel/Facing down the future coming fast - Rush
  • > Just about anyone can throw together a "news" web page. Why should I believe what I read on it?

    But if only uncle Rupert can print the news, why should you trust what he has to say?

    Rather a million news sources/commentaries, with a core of truth, than one with none.

  • the only thing that I would like to see better coverage of is local sports news. That was the only reason I ever watched local news anyway. The main headlines are on the newspaper's website (for free, not .50 or whatever it is now) but local sports still don't pop up too much attention on the web. Now that I am in college, great coverage of the campus sports is available online (including splits, bios, etc). Great wealth of information at any time. And we used to think that turning the dial would be instant information...
  • I havent watched any tv shows for years. I think it was probably Babylon 5 or the first season of South Park that I watched. The TV isnt even hooked up to the cable anymore...I get my news from NPR and cnn online...
  • Parse error on line 37:
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    tend to watch less TV news all the time (The rise of Net news and related
  • George Lucas (yes, you know the one) was once asked to comment about reporters and the media. Among other things, he was asked if the media have been fair to him. ...and whether or not he watches daily News shows.

    His answer, crudely paraphrased, was that the 6 o'clock daily news shows have become a slave to their own propaganda. CBS may run the movie 'Top Gun', then immediately following the movie is the Daily news where there's a feature on pilots. ...or they would run part of a human interest story, "Blind Man saves puppy" then "... For the complete story, watch 20/20 which airs tonight at 8:00."

    Essentially, commercial News has prostituted itself "for the good of the team." It no longer has integrity... and that's part of the reason that we don't watch.
  • Don't forget This American Life [thislife.org], which includes perhaps the most low-key but oddly entrancing radio voice you'll ever hear, Ira Glass. It's not news, but it is good. If your station doesn't carry it, it's also available in RA.

  • I think the greatest problem with traditional televised news is the inherent banality of it. When the OJ Simpson trials were going on it was always the first story on the news whether or not anything of importance had occurred that day or not. During the Clinton scandal you could bet that the president's sex life would be the top story of the evening irregardless of any breaking developments. Today the most reported news items are those that aren't really news. Princess Diana dies and it becomes the only story for the next two weeks when frankly the only newsworthy portion was that she had died and how. Local news is even worse. In my local market (kansas city) the evening news functions primarily to report on various crimes that occurred rather than deal with local politics or anything that might have a valid need to be reported. Wrap up the newscast with sports, weather, and some piece of "investigative journalism" and close with a fluffy human interest story and why would any person actually choose to watch this? Very little of it even qualifies as news and what little is news is often overhyped and sensationalized to stretch out the story. Newsmagazines in the US are all but unreadable choosing more often to focus on some minor social issue rather than world events and politics. The only readable newsmagazine is the excellent British publication the Economist which covers US news better than any domestic magazine. In short the problem with "conventional" news sources is the same problem with bad websites, too much flash and not enough valid content.
  • Am I the only one who cringes at the term "netizen"?

    What exactly do you want to be called?

    How is the online experience "tailored" while the print one is not?

    Slashdot, for one, allows you to ignore certain kinds of stories.

    When I read a paper in the story I can assume it passed through several people's
    hands to get there.


    If I print a page off of the internet and give it to someone, it went through several
    hands to get there. Does that really increase the creditability? How?

    News is not open source. It shouldn't be. If I don't like something I read in the
    paper, I can't alter it to suit my liking.


    I think you may have missed the point. Customizing the articles themselves would be
    a (to use a mild word) foolish. The point is that you can decide what kind articles to get
    more of because there are many more outlets and many of them are specialized. On cable
    at my house, I can hope for a news program that covers something computer related
    to come on sometime within my lifetime. On the internet, I can just head to
    slashdot.org or rootprompt or wherever and get the latest info on things I'm
    interested, and just totally ignore other sites.

    The open source aspect is that I can throw up my own web site and point people
    that way.

  • I get a free newspaper in the mailbox every week also. They pile up in the passenger-side floorboards about a foot thick (I drive up to my mailbox, so all my junk mail piles up in the floorboard until I get around to cleaning the car.)
  • I cringed at "Netizen", but even more at "mediascape".

    It's a pity that an alleged journalist colludes with such cold-blooded murder of the English language.

  • The gutting of TV news is far different than the gutting of TV as a whole.

    The news is an easily consumed bit of information that can be distributed by TV, radio, paper, and the web. Of course the recent addition of web available news has dropped TV news viewship.

    Entertainment TV won't go so easily. For all the hype and bravado, internet streaming media still is horrible. Face it, even with broadband access, the picture is terrible and choices quite limited. Not to mention the social experience. TV watching is often a group function as opposed to computer usage which is a solitary pursuit.

    In interactive TV circles, we refer to this as the sit back/ sit forward choice. Studies show that when using a computer, even for media, people sit forward and upright. Watching TV tends to make people recline and sit back in comfortable furniture. Watch someone use WebTV, when they surf or type, they sit up. When they channel surf and watch TV they lean back.

    TV watchign and computer usage at this time are two completely different experiences. As net-saavy as I am, I still wouldn't consider watching where my computer is located. When I want to watch the Tom Green show, I head to the living room. When I want to play Unreal or Scour so prOn, I head to the computer.

    Until computers/the net can be accepted as a sit back device, provide quality entertainment with a big picture, and has the same latency as DirecTV, the ttan of old media, television, will dominate home entertainment.

    While many early technology adopters tend to watch dramatically less TV, their percentage is few. The rest of the country is still hooked on Millionaire, Survivor, and Wheel of Fortune. Until the net offers the equivalent, television will rule the mediascape.

    OT: Fight the power. Don't talk about Survivor, it's a morally bankrupt show!
  • For people who do like traditional video newscasts (as opposed to written news media), there are sites out there (such as Zatso [zatso.com]) that are combining these old media and new media ideas, allowing you to view "personalized newscasts" online.
  • Agreed, and I would say that the major networks are realizing having the conservative or centrist point of view do pay. Today's Wall Street Journal (editorial page) had a nice piece on John Stossel's popular shows that present issues from a conservative standpoint (my favorite episode was "Greed" not because it was right in stating greed is good, but rather provoked some interesting thoughts). He gets up to 12 million eyes on his shows.

    Regardless, a lot of stuff they report is doom and gloom rubbish. Tornadoes and the like are more important than social security. God help us if another celebrity bites the dust (pricess Di or JFK jr).

  • Commercial news sucks, its blatently biased, and reporters don't have a clue about facts (They leave a lot of important ones out). It is all emotions based reporting. Death and destruction. Important issues are touched on, but never properly analyzed. The net is a far better news resource, but you have to be able to do some sifting.

    For example, Because of the news media (and movies too) many people actually believe that a nuclear power plant can blow up like an a-bomb. At least on the net you could put a link to how a nuclear power plant works in the story. This is no guarantee that someone will click on it, but better than blatently misleading information.

    CNN == Clinton News Network
    ABC == American Broadcasters for Clinton
    CBS == Clinton Broadcasting System
    NBC == National Broadcasters for Clinton

    If Hillary wins the above four remain the same or just put Bush in where there ar B's (except for CNN it will always be the Clinton News Network).
  • Heh - I was watching my local fox station a few weeks ago - they're headline? "Fat fighting hoes - film at 11". Turned out to be a story about a new kind of womens underwear that thinned the thighs.

    Fact is, local news in America sucks. Bigtime. Toronto has City-TV, which does an excellent newshour. Their ratings have actually gone up over the years, too. It's hip, informative, and they report on things that matter.

    It's not that younger Americans don't want TV news, it's just that the networks, in the battle for the eyeballs have aimed for the lowest common denominator. While well educated adults might put up with it because there was nothing available, the younger generations know that there is so much better stuff out there by and for people who can actually THINK.
  • The traditional media outlets are perhaps most influential around election time, when candidates fight tooth and nail for a splash of positive coverage, "face time," and a 3-second sound bite on the nightly news. It would be intriguing if the "new media" indeed were to inject substance into how political elections are conducted. Like many, I am disenchanted with mainstream election coverage that resembles a horse race, with running "So-and-so is 4 points ahead in the polls today" updates in place of the more substantial "My stance on issue X is as follows: [Insert esssay here]." I'd much prefer the days of the Lincoln-Douglas debates over the pith-and-mud we have suffered in the recent past, and I honestly believe that the current "be everyone's friend" approach to political campaigning in the U.S. is the underlying cause for apathy and cynicism among the voting public. I look with guarded agathism to the new media to counteract this.

    Nader [votenader.com] has an interesting and provocative site; while I don't agree with everything he advocates (by a long shot), I do respect his taking a very public stance on contentious issues, and I wish more candidates would do the same.
  • The point being, though, that the zapper really fundamentally changed the way we received information. I remember reading some time ago that the remote control was leading to the death of the hour long drama because at a seconds boredom the viewer switches away. these days there are very, very few programs that hold my attention through the entire program. especially when they go to commercial.
    ok, that was a tangent. basically my point is that as the RC came into prevelance, people started taking more control over what they were viewing. when I used to watch the network news I would flip between three of them looking for interesting stories. Then I moved to two or three news channels. now the commercials all annoy me so it is online, where the ads (banners) don't interupt the information flow.
    I do still catch the bbc world news when I can though. really quite a good program
  • C-SPAN stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. It's a completely ad-free network, with the bills footed by cable companies and perhaps some private underwriters. Its only business is government news, and it excels at that. Any station whose call-in shows have three phone numbers -- one for Democrats, one for Republicans, and one for Independents -- is on to something.

    Some cable channels succeed because they do exactly one thing, and they do it much better than anyone else. Look at the Weather Channel: nothing but weather, all the time. And it's a commercial success. No sitcoms, no panel discussion shows, no killer robots [battlebots.com] necessary.
  • Now that I'm gone from the NYC area...I kinda miss that... Here in MN, the news doesn't cover anything, and they do it slowly... not worth watching, really. Plus, I never get Yankees and (football) Giants updates ;-)

    --
  • Hmm yeah that's something I find really disturbing about the whole article. It really isn't a balanced view, more a tirade against the Bad Bad Evil Dinosaur Old Smelly news on TV.

    But never fear our one new true God The Internet will save us.

    I like being able to sit down for an hour or so a day and catch up with what is happening, someday I think it would even be nice not to log on to the internet for a month or so, gosh I've heard some people don't even have net connections.

    And is net news that less commercial and unbiased?

    I admit that the world does need people like J.Katz to provide extreme viewpoints, and to be passionate about subjects such as he is, even if only because it makes more people aware, hopefully they can come to their own conclusions rather than just swallow it hook, line, and sinker.

    God help you guys if he ever gets a job in politics :)

    I suspect he was probably abused by a major media corporation as a kid meself.

  • I can generally get about half way through the articles. From there read a few of the posts for a break. Then go back and read paragraph by paragraph from the end.

    Apropos enough I've got BBC news 24 playing in the background (well I often do), and they just had a report on online banking in the UK.

    What they did was get an ex hacker|cracker (delete according to taste), he was able to compromise almost all the systems just by sending some users of the bank an email with a k/b sniffer trojan.

    It says a lot about the skills of virus writers that no one has ever managed to do this on a large scale.

    All that untapped user stupidity out there, I mean come on guys, you can do better!

  • You have to be from the upper midwest to truly appreciate it. To us the satire is far closer to reality.

    ----
  • Wow, I thought I was the only geek who listened to NPR! :) The anchors are a little medicated, but I enjoy the program format. It was a lifesaver when I used to drive 1.5 hours each way to work, and I still use my 30-minute commute as an excuse to catch up on world events. Local events are a little harder to be informed about...I try to at least glance at a newspaper every day, but I'm usually too busy.

    The reason I like NPR so much is that they actually expand on some of the more important stories, rather than packing the show with 30-second clips (they do these too, but not too much.) NPR actually picks stories that are interesting and relevant, and occasionally has some very interesting guests on.

    As far as the national news decline goes, all I can say is that there's a reason Cadillac dealers and incontinence supply makers are the primary advertisers. The news just isn't interesting to younger crowds. I get most of my news via Yahoo, NPR, Slashdot and News.com. I'm just too busy to sit there and watch an anchor read off what the network deems the news for that day. I think TV news will continue on for an older set, but I see more and more younger folks like me turning to online news sources.

    This brings up a good point...with the commercialization of news sites, do you think the "bias-free" nature of web news is going away? After all, webmasters can choose to put up whatever they like. TV news, from what I've seen lately, has been soft on big companies (tobacco companies are a great example here.) We'll have to see what happens in the future, but lately it's been getting harder and harder to find information that isn't tainted by an advertiser. (Tech information, except for /. and a few others, is a good example. Which database is a major tech site going to push? Why, the one that pays the most for the endorsement, of course! :))

  • Regular viewership of network news has fallen from 38% to 30% in the past two years, while local news viewership declined from 64% to 56%. Yet fully one in three Americans go online for news at least once a week, compared to 20% two years ago. And 15% say they receive daily news reports from the Net, up 6%.

    Hrm, this makes me want to spew out a few quotes:

    43% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

    There are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics.

  • The local news in NYC is about the same. There's even one news show that shows WHEN they're going to have various stories.

    Let's add in 'odd human interest stories' to that mix, though, just so the point that they have more than violence and money on the news gets through.

    You know, stories like the lawn gnome that was stolen, pictures of it sent to the owner from all over the world, and then its arrival back where it started by limo. Amusing, but... this is NEWS? No, this is someone's prank.

    And I think it's scary that Katz has a point. I DID learn more about the conventions from the Daily Show than I did from the actual coverage (most of which replaced my Nytol for sleep inducement).
    ----

  • Many get their news not from network or local newscasts or even the internet. They get it from places like Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition. Some of the attrition from network news is being acocunted for by online sources, but to a great extent, pop culture and the entertainment industry has replaced the news industry. Or worse...have those two merged and we're just now noticing?

    The local news went out last night on the street (ala "Jaywalking") with two sets of four pictures. Four were of the two major pres/VP tickets, and four were of the last Survivors. Almost everyone identified the four Survivors. Some got Gore and Bush. Not one identified all four pres/VP candidates.

  • Just as tornados outweigh social issues, so too is "the riot" outweighing causation. It is exactly like watching a car chase / explosion...little plot development but plenty of eyes glued to the set. Are they that afraid of offending someone? Do they think "we can't handle the truth"? Lowest common denominator?
    Whatever...I gave up TV news (except for what was then the McNeil Lehrer News Hour) for the Wall Street Journal long ago. Now its slashdot and the online NYTimes.

    TV news *is* worth watching for the comic relief, up to the point it depresses.
  • The number (and quality) of degrees of freedom is orders of magnitude higher for the Net. I would suggest at the very least that while on the Net I get to hold my own spoon. :-)
  • This is what turned me off to the local news on television. They had a bloody ad for the Dreamcast AS A NEWS ARTICLE. It was so blatantly obvious it was ad copy it was pathetic, and they pushed it as news. Sickening.
  • Thats not selfishness, thats minding your own business. In what way is it selfish not to want to watch video of a smoldering plane wreck, or hear some reporter ask a tearful mother how she feels about her child's death? This is spectacle, not news, and watching it does not make someone a better person.

    The reason these shows are dying is that they provide little real information, and they are not as enjoyable as other reality shows like cops or Judge Judy. Personally, I'd rather watch FOX5 than WCBS because they ham it up more and have less pretensions of journalism. 'Course, if I want to see some actual news, I'd go online.
  • I don't even have a TV anymore. Just the computer (A beamer is on my shopping list).

    Wireless keyboard and mouse are a lot easier than the 10 remote controls I used to have, and I can pick my medium without any real effort.

    Picking up background to CNN by going to the web is a REAL boon. It makes your few minutes of news actually mean something...

  • ...has a functional web site. Since I often write editorials about stories I see on the news, it's important to me to be able to recheck what I thought I saw against the same story posted on their site (even the whole broadcase in RA). It seems odd to me that I can get several broadcast channels -- all which have web sites -- but only one [ktvb.com] puts energy into making use of the web. The rest just link to the network's site.

    I've emailed the rest suggesting that they invest some resources in this new-fangled thing called the Internet, but they don't even reply to my emails. So, I ignore them.

  • When I was thirteen (over half my life ago) I read a book called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander. I immediately stopped watching television. Except for a few slips (once during a summer Olympics, and once when the Simpsons were still new) that has stayed with me. Although some of the writing is a little cheesy, the basic points that the book makes are valid - and they don't apply to Web news (yet).

    This guy wrote a whole book so this little summary doesn't go into any of the detailed explainations, but... The main points that I remember are:
    1. The medium of television only allows certain type of programming, and those types are generally focused on violence.
    2. The medium of television is physically inferior to nearly every other medium both visually and acoustically (where applicable) and thus relies on "technical events" to maintian a viewers attention - the content of the programming has very little influence in this regard (except insofar as it aligns with point 1).
    3. Television viewers are in an extremely passive role compared to any other media and this is harmful to brain and psychological developement.
    I forget the last "argument".

    Now, as a software engineer, I spend the vast majority of my waking hours looking at a computer monitor. I don't really think this is healthy, but in many respects it is better than television. My main sources of entertainment (news) are Yahoo, Slashdot, and the GlobeandMail.com (a national newspaper of Canada). I call this entertainment for one very important reason: very very little of the "news" impacts my life. I do not learn things that are important in my day to day life (with perhaps the exception of some of the technical and science articles on Slashdot). Also, about the same time that I was reading 4Arguments, my dad told me something very interesting...

    I'm sure that most of us who went to school can remember "current events" as being an important part of the social studies/history/civics cirriculum. We were exhorted to watch or listen to the news and make reports in class. I was never particularly good at this as I spent most of my free time playing with Lego, doing home chemistry experiments of fiddling with whatever electronic device I could get my hands on. Anyway, my father worked in a video production studio as a director. He made several international award-winning artistic shorts and generally was _really_ knowledgable in the field. He also happened to know one of the executives at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation who was involved with their news division. I don't remember all the details of the conversation, but one day my dad told me that news wasn't about information - it was solely about entertainment. I honestly had a hard time believing it. He backed it up by quoting his friend at the CBC who said something to the effect that the only way they keep viewers is by treating all their programming, and especially news, as entertainment. A news item was scrapped if it was not considered entertaining. It had nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with "newsworthyness". I basically refused to believe it, but the conversation stayed with me. Then I started to actually watch the news, not passively, but with this possibility in mind. And very quickly I ended up agreeing.

  • I used to watch the news every evening a couple of years ago ... that was before i was into the Internet. That was like my Freshmen year of high school.

    Today, I watch a little news on TV ... if it happens to be on... ok. But i Make no effort to watch it. Now, my primary source of news is Slashdot and word of mouth. If its that important I'll hear about it.

    Why?

    Simple, Its Filtering Mechanism. The news (this isn't jsut Commerical news, but papers and radio as well), has become 'bloated.' I live in upstate NY, and i looked at the front page of the morning paper last week. What did i see, a survey that Atlanta, georgia has the highest rate of births on the interstate... which went on to say they had no real numbers to back this up.

    Is that news? If i tried to pass that off in a English class... god knows what kind of grade I'd get.

    And this morning, the front page is coverd with news of Survivor (HYPE), Human embroy laws and A big pic of the NY State Fair. If you look at page 3, you will find out that ~140 people died in a plane crash in the Persian Gulf. ... Uhh ... what happend here... are plane crashes so common that they aren't front page news? Not even a mention? Or has our society just become that obsessed with quasi-entertaing shows?

    As for broadcast news ... the Democratic covrage might as well have been the SuperBowl ... Matt there is talk'n with some Polictical experts 'Well if Gore wants to win .. blah blah...' Not to be apothetic towards politics ... i felt like it was the supper-bolw, with out the Good Commericals.

    This kind of crap is why I'm sick of the News. Some of it is good. I think it is important to know what is happening localy and globally. What happens elsewhere has an ever increasing affect on what happens at home. But if there wasn't so much crap.

    Well thats my report.

  • For what I find to be the most intelligent, thorough, and generally interesting source of News, turn to your local NPR station [npr.org] on the radio. NPR is seldom, if ever, sensationalist, and it is always informative and educational.
    This is certainly true on a national level, with programs such as All Things Considered in the evening, and Morning Edition. It has been true on a local level as well everywhere I have lived (Detroit, Grand Rapids, Philadelphia).

    --
  • "millions of younger Americans never watch a commercial TV newscast"


    At first glance I was elated. "Finally!" I thought. "America is opening its eyes to the intellectual bankruptcy of our broadcast journalists!" But then a small but powerful doubt entered my mind and I searched for the author's name. Jon Katz? Well, if HE said it, it's got to be a load of crock. How disappointing.

  • Easier is doing both for me these days. Why not watch TV while surfing? Tho I have to say TV's degenerationg into tabloidism has turned me to the internet for news more so than the quality or timelyness or other internet "pro" points.

    Headline news stays on 24hrs a day at work in the NOC. And I give this to Katz, he's right on the money about Comedy Central's coverage of politics. They are the best news source on tv for it right now. It's not just Al is a tree jokes, they have to get the issues straight in order to poke fun at em. Regular media always has a slant, like they couldn't help their opinion showing thru.

    The best thing for news readers on the web is archives. If you want to know if something is horribly slanted, flip back a few days and read more by the same people. Do they always slant one way?

    Paper news, I hope it never dies. There is something beautiful about a big hunk of dead tree that the internet has never gotten near. And that stupid M$ reader is worse not better, don't let em fool ya!

    --
    $you = new YOU;

  • It's so much easier when in work to look up the news on the computer rather than watch the news. With online news you also have to watch what they think your interested in where online you can skip what doesn't interest you or explore the subject deeper by looking at related sites. When you're at work there's often no chance to see the TV but when you work with computers then the internet is there for you.

    I think out of all the old media methods or bringing the news the radio is the best one as it's so easy to carry on whatever you're doing (driving, working, etc) while still being able to listen.
  • Network news. Let's see: Approximately a dozen stories, of varying length, served up in twenty-seven minutes' time. That works out to such a short span of time that it's hard to perceive, let alone consider, the "slant" of each story and wonder what details you didn't hear about. "Newsmagazine" formats like 60 Minutes are marginally better at providing detail, at the cost of even steeper slant to hold the viewer's interest.

    The best format I've seen is where a telejournalism entity like PBS' Frontline can devote an entire hour -- or even a week, as in the case of CBS' nineteen-eighty-mumble weeklong series The Defense of America to provide enough content to be more than superficially interesting.

    I think Matt Drudge [drudge.com] is just the first of many "news you can use" one-stop shopping outlets for information that will supplant TV news.
  • Get a TiVo. I have one and my distinct impression is that the intelligence of TV goes up.

    1) My TiVo snags documentaries of all sorts. Somehow all those sitcoms with stereotypical humor about {blonds/women/men/gays/blacks/Jews/Poles/cat people/dog people/news reporters/etc.} has gone away. Good thing too, that crap should have gone out a long time ago for not being funny.

    2) The commercials have almost disappeared.

    Is TiVo expensive? Computer consultants make about $0.70 to $1 a minute. About 8 hours of work would roughly pay for a TiVo. At about 20 minutes an hour of commercials, you need to watch 24 hours of TV to skip enough commercials to pay for your TiVo with lifetime TiVo service.

  • Jon,

    Perhaps it's time for you to dig up copies of Alvin Toffer's three major books, FUTURE SHOCK, THE THIRD WAVE and POWERSHIFT.

    Especially THE THIRD WAVE. That book has become one of the most prophetic books I've EVER read, because many of the ideas he espoused in that book (written in 1980) -has become reality today-.

    One idea Toffler was "demassification," where mass media outlets could not dictate news on a synchronized basis. He predicted in 1980 that the rapid rise of cable TV, VCR's, and online communications will drastically change the way people disseminate and gather information. The commercialization of the Internet in 1992 has made that a reality in the year 2000. I mean, think about it: before CNN, you had to wait for the nightly news broadcasts to get the day's news. With CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews, etc. you can get the latest news -as it happens-. The Internet has made it possible for almost anyone of any political persuasion to disseminate information at unheard-of speeds. Sites like Drudge Report, NewsMax, WorldNetDaily, and even Slashdot are providing information and commentary that would have been difficult if not impossible to disseminate in the past.

    And he also predicted there would be clashes between the old and new ways of disseminating data. The ongoing war of RIAA vs. Napster and MPAA versus DeCSS is proof that new rules will have to be invented in this age of rapid information dissemination.

    In short, the whole idea of a nightly network news broadcast is approaching obselescence. We don't need to wait for the 6 o'clock news when we can get it RIGHT NOW using all-news cable channels and the Internet.
  • Is it just me, or is Katz saying the same thing over and over again?

    I need to update my article on Jon Katz [themestream.com] to that effect . . . "seems to exhibit a fixation toward certain topics, such as how the 'new media' is destined to kill off the 'old media.' Likes to coin new words like 'mediascape'."
    --

  • Me too!

    disclaimer:
    I live in the UK, and can only comment on the news programmes I have seen here. What I say may or may not be relevant in the US.

    I hate the local news here. Why should I care that someone had twins today? Or that a new shop opened in some village I'm not likely to ever visit? It might be news (or maybe not), but to me it is simply not interesting. This holds for both newspapers and TV - 10% interesting news and 90% filler.

    National news is at least more interesting, but it is mostly 'spin-doctored' so much that it is difficult to extract actual facts from it. Lots of political posturing from someone, someone elses opinion on something else, lots of war, famine and disease. These are not my favourite things to here about.

    The net is different - I can find the things that interest me, take as long as I want over it, get the news virtually as it happens (sometimes) and easily skip the spin, hype and garbage. There is a load of crap on the net, but I simply choose not to look at that. Given the limited number of channels I get I find it much harder to do that with TV.
  • &ltAOL&gt Me Too! &lt/AOL&gt

    I listen to NPR on the way to work and home, because the short little "this program brought to you by FooCompany, makers of business to business software" is WAY, WAY less irritating than the advertising on other channels. And they have interesting stuff - I've bought CD's from musicians I've heard on NPR, and found out interesting stuff about the recent party conventions.

    And the rest of my news I get from the net - Slashdot, Blues News, [bluesnews.com] [theregister.co.uk]Wired News [wired.com], CBC (Canadian non-corporate news) [cbc.ca] and CNN.com. [cnn.com]

    The critical thing about on-line news is I can quickly scan the headlines, ignore the ads, and only read the stuff I care about.

    When you get used to that, watching news on TV is just intolerable, both for the astoundingly stupid and annoying ads that make you wait until they end, and even more importantly, the lack of a fast forward button to skip the retarded "human interest" stories that are irrelevent filler.

    Watching TV news is like watching a stupid person web surfing. It's painful.


    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • by jilles (20976)
    I'm dutch but live in Sweden. I have a fast network connection in my room and I can watch some local channels on the tv. Since I don't speak swedish very well I use the tv exclusively to watch english spoken movies & david letterman (cheesy talk show but great before sleeping).

    All the rest I do through internet. I get tech news, local news and international news through internet. I've become a news junky and I doubt TV could ever satisfy my craving for news. When I'm in the Netherlands I find the news shows boring, long and dumbed down. The same news is repeated over and over. If a plane crashes, you'll hear about it for weeks (which is why I hate plane crashes, hurricanes and other disasters). I like the diversity and speed of news on the internet. I like extracting the important news from a few headlines and then quickly getting to the in depth stuff that matters quickly. I like being able to skip the less interesting stuff.
  • The one exception is the daily newspaper, as there isn't as much info about local news online

    (like most of the other posters, I rarely watch TV news, it's too slow and linear for my tastes, and commercials are just damn annoying (additional sidelight, NBC just crossed the average threshhold of 15 minutes of commercials per hour, but at least profits are up))

    I think the local news weakness of the Net will disappear as the overall penetration of Internet access increases. With only 10% of the population online, you might have enough traffic to make it worthwhile for a national news source, but the crowd disentegrates on the local level. With 50%+ penetration, it becomes viable to do more local content, and go after local advertising money.

    And Jon had a good point (when he recused his own opinions in parentheses "The kids I encounter online devour enormous amounts of information on a daily basis. That makes sweeping descriptions of their information habits suspect") about the type of "news" that the younger crowd enjoys. We are information junkies, but the type of stuff that interests us is usually outside the boundaries of conventional media. It will interesting to see what happens when this type of media dissemination has a couple generations to evolve.
    --
  • There were as many as three local news shows in the NY area that did this. Channel 2 when they did their blitz-like "More news in less time!" format would cover every story in 30 seconds or less. They would be talking incredibly fast -- and I say this as a New Yorker -- to get out all the news, and then provide a listing of all the stories coming up, scheduled right down to the minute. Hilarious. Channels 9 (close enough to NY) and 11 still do a "ticker" format on their 10 o'clock news.

    Why would anyone need this information? "Come on, honey! There's an important story about our kids and Pokémon coming up at 10:42 PM! And then we can't miss Sal's sports at 10:44 PM! This is so exciting!"
  • Which strangely is pretty much the reason I avoid online news sites.

    Then again I have BBC & ITN news 24 hours a day, both fairly unbiased (not perfect of course, but what news source on or off line is) and at least one of which is completely ad free.

    I don't know any online news site that has the resources of the BBC to investigate news stories, or have 'programs' such as Correspondent or Hardtalk.

    The only news I really use the net for is specialist stuff, things like tech or environmental, as that is something by it's nature it excels at. Or to get more info on stories seen on TV.

  • Seen several posts stating that they don't read the local paper because it contains news that isn't interesting to them. That is, of course, why they should read it! Sure, the board of educations ramblings may not be important now, but what about when you have kids and they start school? Many issues that seem unimportant now become very important later. Remember that the Watergate story started out in the local section of the Washington Post. Would you want to read about a third rate burglary attempt? No? What about high-level political corruption?
  • There's another reason that the (traditional)media is dying on the internet, and that's because of the cheap global communications between people that know each other (or at least have some sake in each other's wellbeing). This enables you to spend more time on things that matter more for you - for instance, some relatives getting married, or what your brother is doing in college, etc - rather than watch the latest l33tness about the president getting caught with his interns (especially when you don't even HAVE a president, and have to watch that junk!).

    Another point is that if something really interests me, you don't need washed and polished versions from the news outlets. You can go online and get the wire text almost immediately, or you can go one better and read or in some cases even talk to people that are actually there as stuff is going down.

    The traditional 6 o'clock news worked to inform a populace about what's going on in a world they had little or no means of communication with - up until recently, even phone calls (for the uninitiated ;) to europe were extremely/stupid expensive. That's all been changed by the internet. Now that everyone is more or less connected (or everyone that cares to be connected enough such that they'd impact news ratings) the need for traditional media has decined, and given what I see when I watch the american news here anyhow, (Heh, fox rochester), it won't be missed.

  • I don't buy this whole "interactive thing". TV is not interactive. A net news feed is not interactive. Hell, very few games are truly interactive (unless you call just moving around the mouse and pressing keys truly interactive). None of them really inform you or engage your mind. They are all pretty much passive.

    What is happening is that the internet has enabled a flood of omnipresent information. People need to filter out that information and get it when they want it. So they use "on-demand" news, or niche news sources, like Slashdot for instance. But really I think this is just having the effect of shortening attention spans. There simply is no time to slowly digest a full featured article on every news event. The next generation is not going use so much "interactive" news, but quick fast, non-substantial news.

    So I don't think all this push, on-demand, niche, news coverage is really going to overcome the traditional forms completely. People *like* to sit down with a newspaper or magazine and read at liesure. People *like* large features with a lot of content (I'm guessing part of the reason we have a traditional journalist like John Katz around). Unfortunately, those "static" mediums have just turned into advertising mediums with some tidbits of news thrown in. Watch the BBC on PBS, and then watch your local "international" news coverage.
  • "This finding underscores the importance of that little wireless zapper, proving it to be one of the most political pieces of technology ever."

    Hmm, let me think of some others.... crossbows, guns, cars, ships, nuclear weapons.

    Somehow these seem to have had more political clout than a TV zapper.
  • - it's the WAY it's presented that puts me off. Like the old Don Henley tune, "she can tell you 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye" - the smiling, powdered, white-bread looking anchors fumbling through their scripts. Sickening. PBS does a better job, but even then sometimes they go off on tangents. /. is good for techie news, Suck [suck.com] is good for satire, and NPR is my morning fix. Local news is shallow, ratings-driven, pancake makeup crap.

    The Divine Creatrix in a Mortal Shell that stays Crunchy in Milk
  • When you actually work in the news, you become hyper-aware of WHY THIS CONTINUES TO BE.

    From the (way over-reverenced) BBC and NYT to the (indescribably worse) US local newscast, there is one ambition whiah predominates. It's no longer just pleasing advertisers...although that certainly plays a central role.

    More often choices come down to an individual's self-advancement. This will always be determined by the rules of the organ or the corporation in question.

    Primarily this means lots of people with absolutely no curiosity about others report on only those "others" whose stories will do their own careers some good. This is why minorities who appear on the news are always there because they have "overcome challenges" or "served as an example". Food Bank stories are always run at Thanksgiving, Latino stories on Cinco de Mayo or Day or the Dead. Black reporters dread February aka Black Heritage Month - they always note it's the shortest month of the year. Etc etc.

    Don't even look for anything new - no one else is out there looking for you!!!

    Once you get this, it explains a lot. People who are paying less and less for TV and print editors get editors who genuinely see "the audience" through their own perceptions. Believe me, they have a LOW opinion of YOU...they think you WANT the dreck you get, because that's what they know & do.

    Why do most arts editors think "the arts" are opera and theater?? Because they never questioned what they were told and don't like to listen. Listening (the actual heart of decent journalism) would be a threat to their always-guarded hegemonies.

    The idea that code could be art, that copyright emerged as one of today's most important political battlegrounds, that the RIGHT spokesperson is needed to comment on something - rather than the person it is easiest to contact? These are alien thoughts indeed.

    For these folks, opinion (their own) is king.

    Every rag in every town in the English-speaking world has some columnist just dying to have their little picture next to an endless screed of their thoughts. The concept they OWE you a trip outside the study or office, into real life, just to see what the story IS...this really never occurs to them. Columnists are interested in what gets them in with the editor. TV anchors want the ratings guy to smile on their set of numbers.

    Instead of actual devlepments, "experts" and "surveys" and announcements BECOME the news - simply by virtue of their release. (Certainly this is the case with Mr.Katz, who did not bother with the beginnning findings of this ONGOING Pew Center survey!!!)

    There are always honorable exceptions to this, online and offline. But never underestimate the pressures anyone who tries to get "the real story" instead of "enough for today" is fighting.

    Unless, of course, you actually _work_ in the news and keep plugging away, trying to deliver.

  • Man, I hear you. I like NPR, but sometimes it is just too damn classical music listenin', literature appreciatin', minutiae dwellin', corn farmer in Iowa interviewin', monotone talkin' whitebread boring for me to listen to.

    What I need is an NPR with a blunted hip-hop/acid jazz soundtrack, and street sensibilities to match. Like, Ice-T interviewing Kevin Mitnick or something.

    Maybe I should just cut down on the coffee.

    --
  • The newspaper is pre-interactive? Huh? Let's pick up a copy of any local or national newspaper. Hmm, let's see, here's this column over to the left that has a news blurb, and underneath says "continued on page B1." Whoa! Sounds like a link to me! If I'm interested in that story, I'll follow the link to page B1 and pick up where it left off, disregarding the intervening Monicagate coverage in section A.

    In a very real sense, the internet has just returned to us the interactivity that news always had when people read it. Radio and TV are both push media, but that doesn't mean that all pre-internet technologies are "pre-interactive." News has wanted to be interactive for a long, long time.

  • http://www.stratfor.com [stratfor.com] provides a unique news platform. They are not traditional media newstypes - rather a former intelligence consulting firm providing world news with comentary as to what affects this has to the surrounding governments, our government and etc...

    Rather than provide you with the same story of tradgedy the Kursk incident was, they discuss the effect that loosing the sub will have [stratfor.com] on all future Russian Naval operations.

    Quite literally, this is at least a different apporach to the news if nothing else...
  • <boggle!>

    This isn't meant as a flame, but who strapped you to a chair in front of the TV with your eyes wired open (a la Clockwork Orange)?

    You *can* go elsewhere with 'push' media. You are *not* a 'captive audience'. Change the channel, or better - Turn Off The TV!

    Do you really think there is actually any differnce between the two types? You don't think you're getting spoonfed from websites? You are, you just have more choice over what flavour you want...

    Mike.
    ps) I apologise in advance if you *are* strapped into a chair etc. ;)
  • before saying Open Source.

    is it that Katz forgot to mention Open Source through that whole rant?

    Of course there's going to be a generational divide. Duh. That's not new. There's a generational divide in the ages of web users. Most are under 35. That's been known for quite some time. And of course these users are going to read the news online the way they're used to, fast and direct, instead of watching some caked-up talking head give them the news they think is important. What's so new about this? NOTHING.

    No, the younger generation isn't getting further away from finding out what is going on in the outside world. It's expanding the younger generation's knowledge beyond what the older generation has experienced. While my dad is watching the nightly news about Borneo (and not knowing whether it's in the Caribbean or the South Pacific), a web user can easily get more information within two clicks.

    Web users are learning MORE about the news than the older generation, not less. And it's not changing the mediascape. Wait until interactive tv gets a good foothold, we're all going to go back to the TV to get our news. It'll just be more interactive. Fact is, between the computer and the tv, much of the time you want the one you can interact with, not just be a passive viewer. But if that's so, why is radio becoming the hottest commodity for advertising? Because there's a time and a place for interactivity.
  • Well, I don't remember the last time I watched news on TV... I can hit the net and get updated coverage of pretty much anything, at any time... The one exception is the daily newspaper, as there isn't as much info about local news online

    I've also noticed that I care less and less about the magazines I subscribe to as time goes on... some of the developer mags (Java Developers Journal comes to mind) have content that's worth reading, but even Linux Journal feels dated when I get the new issue in the mail... the articles are usually good, but anything covering 'news' (ie new releases of software etc. etc.) I already knew about weeks before getting the magazine... this is an inherent limitation of magazine format print media...

    And for the record I'm 28 so what demographic does that put me in in this study, Jon?

    .technomancer

  • The nightly news is too heavily influenced by advertisers, politics, and personal bias.

    And Slashdot isn't?

  • ...the same goes for news and other media.

    What bothers me about these personalized, interactive real time news sources is the way they (may) contribute to keeping important niche news in the dark. For example: How will the dark side of the DMCA get any exposure? Sure it is debated every day on /. and other geeky news sources, but mr A. Random Voter will never hear about it. He has his own personalized news source where stuff he doesn't care much about is filtered out.

    Sure, Time /Warner is not likely to do a piece about it anyway, *but* one nice feature of the "old" media was some hard unpopular pieces directed to Mr Joe and his friends.

    What is worse than a news outlet censoring the news? The viewers censoring the news themselves!

  • You must have been watching something I didn't. The coverage I saw on CNN amounted to 'Young punks started fights with the cops' supported by interviews with cops. No mention of the shutting down of the Independant Media Center, no interviews with protest leaders, no questioning of the official police line.

    Neither of the "think tanks" you cited ranked in the top 25. Amnesty International is not a think tank at all, and the VPC is unabashedly pro-gun control. The fact that you consider gun control and human rights to be a 'seriously left-wing agenda' tells me that they either already have you fooled or that you were a fool to begin with.

  • "FAIR doesn't like the fact that ABC lets Stossel prevent some "controversial" views that question basic assumptions about American morality and neo-socialist thinking."

    Try actually reading the article. FAIR doesn't like the fact that Stossel fabricated evidence to support his position.

    "Do you ever see FAIR criticizing the networks for running BOGUS scare stories from leftist thinktanks like the Alar-scare a few years ago..."

    Yep, their radio show has a piece on it here [webactive.com].

    "The media is neither left nor right."

    Correct, they are corporations.

  • Interesting point about the migration from passive (push) media to more selective (pull) media. I've always had a disdain for push media, feeling that I'm being spoonfed with what somebody else thinks is "good". I prefer pull media like most of the Net[1] because if it's no good, you can choose to go elsewhere. This means if a media company wants to succeed, they'll have to compete based on their merit than on what is basically a captive audience.

    [1] I say "almost" because there are some pretty sad efforts on the Net (Web, in particular) that are blatant attempts to make it into a push media.


    ---
  • You know, this was an interesting piece and kinda mirrors my own thoughts.

    Lately, I've been reading a lot of history. . .it struck me that I know almost nothing about the world I live in, so I've started doing some research. I'm up to the Civil War, and what ABSOLUTELY AMAZES me from what I've been reading ('Battle Cry of Freedom' for any interested--excellent book) is that 1) newspapers were so powerful, varied, and widely read, 2) people cared enough to read them, and 3) the majority of the country would turn out to listen to others speak on issues that concerned them. That was the 'mediascape' back then, and boy was it important--especially around the Civil War period!!

    Although I rarely agree with Katz, this article makes again an oft-harped point: we want our news and information in easy-to-swallow nuggets. How many of us Americans (excluding the obviously aware slash community) could actively and thoroughly discuss the recent political upheavals in Africa, for example. Or--as a better example--actively and thoroughly discuss the platforms of each of our political candidates for president?? I can speak from a college campus as saying its a rare bird who even pays attention to that sort of thing. Its just not sensationalistic enough.

    To be honest, maybe part of this is that now most Americans think that 'stuff from the outside world' doesn't matter, since it doesn't immediately affect them. This attitude might have to do with the modern shift towards individualism in the US. By and large, we've moved away from communities where we at least identified with our neighbor's interests, and towards the 'so how to I benefit' attitude. Along with this our awareness has shrunk, apathy has grown (heck, you can get your news in the palm of your hand ANYWHERE now!), and we're all 'too busy' to care. How many people regularly go to speeches or town meetings now?

    This is all just random musings which came to mind while reading Katz's article. Email or post your thoughts!!

    s

  • Has nothing to do with the advance of "The Internet Revolution" The reason I gave up on "Commercial News" is simply because its commercial.

    I can summerize it very simply:

    War, Death, Crime, Violence, Politics, Stocks, Endorcments, War, Death, Crime, Disease, Money....(reapeat till end of broadcast).

    Anyone else see my point or am I on my own on this one?

  • Understand that one thing that's happening is that "news" is losing the meaning it once had.

    I can remember sitting down with my dad every night at 5:30pm and watching Walter Cronkite. "And that's the way it is," Cronkite would say at the end of each broadcast. And for millions of viewers, that's the way it was -- that's the way Vietnam was reported, Watergate, you name it. Cronkite's was the voice of the "news".

    "News" was what happened during the day and what was wrapped at 5:30pm or 6pm or whenever folks got their Cronkite fix.

    I'm not particularly nostalgic for those days. I mean, I was very young at the time -- maybe 4,5, 6 years old -- but I have vivid memories of Cronkite's Vietnam reporting, as well as the Watergate hearings. To me -- up until 10 or 11 years ago -- news was what these guys -- rarely women -- reported at the end of each day. I'm not nostalgic because I realize (or *think* I realize) that that sort of "news" was very, very sanitized and manipulated. (And, yes, today's "news" is just as manipulative -- but it's also more widespread and pervasive. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing -- just something I've noticed.)

    I still get momentary flashes of memory when I hear Cronkite's voice -- I remember him talking about Tet and the Viet Cong and the body counts and all that sort of stuff. For a young kid it was very powerful.

    "News" today loses much of its power thanks to the immediacy with which it is delivered. There was something mysterious about Cronkite -- the fact that, well, stories were wrapped up at a specific time each day. Sure, there was Paul Harvey on the AM radio -- "And now ... the REST of the story!" -- but his was always a mix of vaccum cleaner commercials mixed with news that never seemed as important as what Cronkite was reporting. It was as though Cronkite functioned as the "validator" for the news. If he reported it, it was, indeed, news and, by extension, important. (It was for this reason, of course, that he was -- and possible is -- "the most trusted man in America").

    Today we don't have those kinds of validators. Sure, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw try to pass themselves off as cultural critics. "Hey, we're more than just talking heads -- we've got a critical slant on American culture, too."

    But they don't have the same "truck" that Cronkite had.

    So "news" doesn't carry the sort of baggage that it once had. It isn't just something that happens at the end of each day. It isn't just endless talk about Tet and My Lai and Nixon and Cambodia. Now it's constantly shifting, ephemeral, hard to pin down. What's news now might not be news a minute from now -- and it might not even be news, period, thanks to corporate spin and government manipulation. You never know. And you can't know, because there's no one (for good or bad) like Cronkite to validate it.

    Really, I'm serious: I'm not nostalgic for that sort of thing. I'm not sure it's in the best interests of American culture these days to have a force like Cronkite validating the cultural awareness of ourselves. We need what we now have: the mercurial nature of truth, the shifting alliances, the layers of deception.

    Everything is gray now. There's no John Wayne to scout out the bad guys, wipe 'em out, and explain why we should appreciate what we have. That sort of thing is funny now -- it's trite, too simplistic.

    This complexity is reflected, no doubt, in the way we view ourselves through "news" media. It's no wonder that "news" junkies are on their way out. Who has time to keep up?
  • Katz has focused here on the delivery medium, but has not delved into the editorial control of content.

    I believe that I should learn something new from the news. I should hear opinions that I disagree with, as well as ones that I do. I should hear news that I like, and news that I dislike. If I get too choosey about getting a news program that I like too much, I fear I will not be getting a balanced picture of what is really happening in the world.

    Part of the pride of old-school journalism was the concepts of fairness and objectivity. Our "classic" news sources still make at least some attempt to stick to those standards.

    It's not clear that the "Neuvo-News" subscribes to the same philosophy. Even in the old-school technologies of paper, radio, and TV it's possible to get a whole range of slants. There are info-rags on both the right and left sides of the issues, the whole gamut from Rush to Oprah. While the latter aren't really news shows, they certainly do pretend to have editorial comment on current events. On the web, where the burden of publishing is even lower, many may well never have even heard of the concept of journalistic integrity, much less attempt to achieve it.

    Choose carefully. Be surprised.
  • It's so much easier (even for a geek like myself) to sit down with that beer on my couch and catch channel 9 news than it is to type stuff on my computer to see the news. I think TV news will be here for a long time, internet news is much less convenient once you get home and it's 10pm (or 11, whichever) and you want the day's news. A newspaper is going to be around a long time too; it's easy to read on the train/bus/whatever on the way to work, here in Denver, it only costs a quarter (thanks to 15 years of newspaper wars), and when you're done, you can use it to pack that vase you're sending Aunt Marge for her birthday so the USPS doesn't break it into 3000 pieces.
  • Katz, you say that traditional media such as newspapers offer "few choices and little control". They are not "interactive".

    A newspaper is too large for most people to read it in its entireity. So what do we do? We choose which stories look interesting or important and we use our hands to control the turning of the pages to get to those articles. If that's not "interactive" (in the Katz sense, not in the dictionary sense) then I don't know what is!

  • Let me tell you a story about life in Latin America.

    I live in Panama, and I used to watch the local news back in the days when i was even more clueless. I also watched CNN a lot (the only half decent international news media we got here) Then the net came along (96 for me) and the whole thing changed. I now get 90% of my news from CNN.com, News.com, Slashdot and some very specialized web sites like tecsoc.org [galeriacentral.com] and spaceref. It's hard to get good local news when you live in these parts of the world, and most good international news sites are US based and they don't hide it, so you end up feeling like you're part of the US in some strange way, yet you aren't. I don't know how relevant this is, or how will it all end, but i can tell you that many many people, in many parts of the world, feel the same way.

    just my $0.02
  • I think the emerging independent media centers [indymedia.org] present a real threat to the commercials disguised as corporate media.

    During the conventions, CNN could barely come up with one or two boring comments a day about nothing, or just re-hashing press releases. The real news was on the IMC for LA, which showed audio, video and text of the convention as it was happening. When the police started a riot in a subway station, CNN still has not reported on this. IMC had reports online within 3-4 hours. When the police were firing rubber bullets at everyone, IMC readers knew almost immediately. CNN readers had to wait until sometime the next day.

    Whoever still thinks that CNN or ABCNEWS or whatever has any kind of use in our society besides another commercial/advertising venue is gullible at best.

    Meanwhile, execs at commercial media outlets should understand that their days are numbered. They can join the record industry execs on the welfare rolls (which will coincide with a decrease of the welfare-recipient-bashing stories in the commercial media) because with cool, internet alternatives, corporate media just cannot compete.

  • Local news still serves some purpose--besides the latest scandals and murder stories. It's still indispensable for announcements like inclement weather warnings, evacuations, school closings, highway closings, and other potentially inconveniencing things to pay attention to. Of course, the only reason for this is because all the officials and politicos either call or are called by WXYZ to get or give info. If they only called www.LakeWinnebagoNews.com, then there might be a surge in the web traffic, or some very pissed off audiences. It depends on what is considered a public service or utility, as TV could be considered ubiquitous, almost as much as a radio.

    The FCC, for instance, puts some requirements on programming (so much educational time, some community-related stuff, etc.) Web sites and the like have no such restrictions--yet. Can you imagine? "LakeWinnebagoNews.com must feature 3 more op-ed pieces, and five more public service stories per week to maintain 'news site' status."

    On a side note, I read with pleasure as Katz actually quoted *numbers* to back up his arguments. It was a refreshing change from the traditional, "A lot of people under 30 don't pay much attention to TV news." Of course, now we hope that the stats are accurate, but it makes for an exponentially meatier essay when you have a chance of backing up your statements.

    Even if I don't agree with the analysis, at least I'm not left perplexed, wondering where in Hades he could have possibly drawn those conclusions. Thanks for including the numbers.

    Slowly moving from the letters page to op-ed...

  • I quit watching the news because I was tired of the same guy spouting the same damn story day after day after day. I'm also tired of the technology-ignorant media. Half the time they talk on technology they're wrong. The other half, they're not entirely right. It sickens me how much time people waste watching the semi-accurate, corporate bought news. I go to the internet for the news now, why? Because I choose what I see. I go to sites that are accurate and I ignore sites that are bunk. It's a lot easier when I decide what is seen rather than some faceless content director.
  • I don't know about the rest of you, but I used to write news for an ABC affiliate for about three years.

    We had a very strict rule for all news writing: who, what, when, where, and sometimes why and how.
    Guesswork was not allowed nor were hyperbole or sentiment. Just the facts as they were available.

    Let's say there was a murder somewhere in town.
    There questions we usually needed answers to included:

    Who was murdered
    Who was arrested for it
    Who saw it
    What was used to commit the murder
    When did it happen
    When did the victim die
    When was the alledged assailant arested
    Where did it happen
    How did the victim die
    How was the victim found
    How was the alledged assailant arested

    These days, some reporters have different questions like:

    Who was killed
    Was he in a gang
    Was his family in a gang
    Where are the gangs
    What was his "community" like
    What was his family life like
    What is the reaction of his family, are they upset
    Where are some gratuitous thugs and locals we can use for B-roll in the background
    Where is the blood
    Did the assailant have anything in his childhood that may have caused this murder
    Why are guns sold to the public when guns are obviously only used by peaceful, loving, law abiding citizens who magically transform into hateful, monsters in the presence of a gun
    Where can I do my standup which has the most bodies/blood/policecars/waving idiots in the background
    What government program could have stopped this crime from happening
    What government funded program was cut that resulted in this crime happening
    How is this crime further examples of the problems between the haves and have nots
    Whose fault is this
    Will the assailant, oh wait, ALLEDGED assailant, be put to death
    Does my hair look alright

    BTW, the reason Jon Katz has not written an article in some time is he just finished shooting the TV show, "Survivor". Jon played the part of Rich and wants everyone to know how much fun he had with the other 15 castaways and he has big plans for the money.

  • Yes, the lies, the obstructions of justice, and the cover-ups were news. They, however, did not get much ink in the press.

    If we were to take a poll, how many Americans do you think are aware that Clinton was found guilty of "contempt of court" for lying in his sexual harrassment testimony, and fined $90,000? Or that several people have been arrested for illegal fund-raising for the Clinton-Gore '96 campeign? Or that Ken Starr's investigation resulted in the conviction and imprisonment of over two dozen close business partners and political allies of the Clintons (for crimes that they could not possibly have committed without the knowing aid of our current sitting president)?

    What we did get from TV and the press was day after day after day of talk about the juicy sex bits from the back pages of Ken Starr's report. Stories about fellated Presidents sells more papers than serious obstructions of justice.

    The problem shows no signs of stopping either. Are the press getting into the meaty details of Bush and Gore's differing Social Security reform proposals? Or are the just bringing in "consultants" like George Stephenopolis to talk about whether Gore can match Bush's charisma, and what the Gender Gap statistics look like this month?

    Like I said, journalism is dead. The age of Infotainment is here.

  • Let's look at the stories which dominated the press over the last few years:

    A teenage tramp shoots her sleazy lover's wife in the face.
    A crazy woman cuts her bully boyfriend's penis off.
    An olympic hopeful asks a thug to injure one of her rivals.
    A football player stabs his wife and her lover to death.
    A White House aide shoots himself.
    The LA police beat the living crap out of some guy.
    Two nut-job suburban kids went on a shooting spree.
    The President gets a hummer when he was talking on the phone.

    To put is simply, who gives a rats ass about any of this stuff?

    National news broadcasts were cutting into perfectly good Deep Space Nine re-runs to give me updates on "the O.J. Trial". Dammit! People kill their cheating ex-spouses every day in this sad world, but when a Heisman Trophy winner does it, it somehow warrents 24/7 coverage for a freakin' year!?

    The Clinton administration has been facing accusations of electoral fraud, lying under oath, sexual harrassment, massive security leaks, taking bribes from foreign powers, cover-ups and "lost" files, gathering FBI data based on an Enemies List, using IRS audits as a weapon for revenge (4 of the 5 "jane doe" women have been audited in the last two years), and even crooked land deals... some may be true, some may not, but it is certainly worth looking into. Instead, we get months of talk about the President's indescretions with a chubby young intern with a cigar fetish. I don't care who that stupid cracker is fooling around with! Good for him; he's gettin' some! Find out that he's selling secrets to the Chinese, or that he knew the asprin factory he bombed in the Sudan wasn't a terrorist camp, then maybe you have a story. Otherwise, don't bother me with sensationalistic crap.

    I don't watch "the news" anymore because they report on a lot of stuff that doesn't matter, and hardly ever cover stuff that does.

  • are increasingly accustomed to tailoring their news consumption: they want information of particular interest to them, at the times they choose to receive it.

    A very interesting bit of truth. Neil Postman [preservenet.com] writes very shocking and telling books on this subject. Important is: Amusing Ourselves to Death [fatbrain.com] and How to Watch TV News [fatbrain.com] which deal with these ideas.

    What will surely rise as a problem in the near future is a society disconnected from a common 'world state' (not state as in country, but state as in tense). When people only have interest in seeking out and reading news that is of interest to them we may have a problem. The evening news (for all its obvious ills) provided a common public discourse. When people begin to consume their news information as entertainment, we loose the ability to maintain an idea of a general present state (of society/world). For instance, Slashdotters, myself included, are rabid over the MPAA/DMCA/RIAA/DeCSS/Napster/2600 mess. When we only focus on the problems WE are interested in we loose touch with everything else. Have you ever tried to explain this situation to 'non-slashdot-types'? Painful isn't it. This situation has broad reaching implications and people in the general US population have ZERO idea what the problem is, maybe because they find other things 'more interesting'.

    The mainstream media plays to the middle, this topic will NEVER bubble to the top. Now imagine other groups coalescing around whatever topic is of interest to them, by doing so it marginalizes our ability act in force. This will separate people into many disperse groups, unable to communicate. People no longer are aware of the general world around them. We have got to try and maintain a balance between specific news topics/sources (tech - slashdot) by balancing it with more general topics/sources. (bbc/cbc/cnn - environnent/social justice/politics). When a story appears on one of these sources* remember that their is another equally rabid group trying desperately to get US to hear them.

    * except the obvious status-quo corporatist propaganda stories foisted by the corporate media(which should be obviously ignored).

    Scared of the recent comments by Sony's VP? Yeah, me too. Corporations got you down? Yeah, me too. Why don't you:
  • I realize I'm proably preaching to the choir here, (an ironic phrase, since many choirboys aren't particularly devout, they just sing well) but I think TV is a HORRIBLE medium for news. News should be a collection of facts about what has happened. TV picks out a few of these facts and presents them to us in two ways: having them spoken by newspeople, and showing them via videocameras.

    The first is utterly wasteful of bandwidth, since you could just read the text of what these people say or listen to it via radio. But instead you're looking at them, so TV stations often select their newspeople based on who is nice to look at, instead of who understands what they're saying and conveys meaning well with their voice.

    The second is useful, because it's harder to bias images from the scene. I don't say impossible, not only from the recently announced realtime video editing, but because selective presentation can present a particular viewpoint by showing you only certain images. But more importantly, this also causes TV stations to select images that look cool or scary or impressive or attractive, rather than images that impartially and effectively convey the situation.

    There's also the problem that it's very linear and beyond my control. If FOX or ABC or NBC or CNN does a story on Napster or DeCSS, I might be interested. But I don't want to sit there watching for 10 minutes while they explain what an mp3 is and what a DVD is and in their oversimplification they say that Napster is a website that contains copyrighted songs. I want to be able to skip right to the facts that I don't already know.

    Well the Internet lets me see text and images that present me with facts, and if I ever think I'm being presented with a biased image, it only takes a second or two to jump to somebody else's side of the story. Even better, the people being reported on (Napser, MPAA, RIAA, DeCSS, 2600, US Government courts and judges, etc...) actually have their own sites and I can get the story directly from them. I feel much more confident at my ability to assemble a good understanding of the story based on testimony from all the people concerned than based on a single story told by some supposedly unbiased TV journalist who is targeting his story at people who are significantly different from me.

    So of course I go to the 'net for my news. I think TV news is an idiotic concept to begin with, and was just an attempt to cash in on the fact that lots of Americans want to keep up with the news, so they'll watch it on TV at night.
  • I'm probably as much of a news junkie as anyone. I check CNN, Yahoo and a few others now and then, because the news arrives at the same time as the commercials instead of after them.

    A plane crashes somewhere and I can find info on the net just by loading a couple pages. The radio edits out all but the most meager sensational details [an american attache was believed to be on board.] The TV news only appears every so many hours apart, unless its CNN, and only interested in gory details. With the net I can immediately start searches to find out more about things, I.e. how many crashes involved an airbus 320 in the last year, what's the record for Gulf Air, etc. Magazines are ok when I want to see someone elses in depth on something and newspapers are still good when I want to take something along to read and not worry about where to plug it in or how long the batteries will last.

    When it comes to tech, the net is unbeatable. It's become the very source.


    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 24, 2000 @05:39AM (#830872)
    I have fun checking network news stories. It's amazing how many lies are told!

    And the bias on the morning talk show against conservatives is just wonderful to watch.

    Try this. Watch Katie of Today show fame. If she is interviewing a liberal, her face just glows with happiness. She gets a mean look when she talks to conservatives.

    After Pres. Clinton ordered the bombing of the pill factory in Sudan, the news came out that Pres. Clinton DID NOT consult the Joint Chiefs of Staff! Well little Katie asked if there wasn't some security conserns! The Joint Chiefs of Staff can't be trusted???

    So come you people on the wrong side of the digital divide, watch these people work. It's funny!

    Ever watch kids fight over a toy? Watching the Sunday morning talking heads is the same thing! Whiny gut kids in suits!

    It's fun!!!!
  • by heroine (1220) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @09:12AM (#830873) Homepage
    When I was a teenager the big political agenda was redeeming child illiteracy which seemed to be running rampant because of education cutbacks. Now, with 99% of the information on the internet being text based, it's like illiteracy was never an issue. We've revived reading and writing by presenting text in an interactive format.
  • by FPhlyer (14433) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @05:51AM (#830874) Homepage
    Jon, you have written a particularly good one here, and your assumptions are on the mark... so I won't flame you this time (Okay, I try to stay out of the Jon Katz Flame War thing on /. anyway)

    Every now and then I get a call from my local newspaper asking me if I would like to subscribe, and I always give them the same answer: I get my news of the Internet, so leave me alone.

    It is true. I don't follow the traditional media (and to think, in my past life I was a journalist for the U.S. Navy!) By the time a newspaper has been printed, delivered and picked up by the reader, that news is already old. And television broadcast news does not allow me to skip over information that is irrelevant to me or investigate relevant information further.

    In fact, the only "traditional media" that I consider still viable is good old radio. And that is only because it's irrelevance is negated by the fact that it is just so damn convienient. (If I had a computer that would pull news off the internet in accordance to my tastes and then use a text to speech engine to read it to me while I drive, I wouldn't have a need for radio either.

    We live in an age where not only can we get information from around the globe in a very timely fashion, but we can have that information tailored to meet our individual preferences. TV, Newspapers and ultimately Radio just cannot keep up with interactive media.
  • by rkent (73434) <[rkent] [at] [post.harvard.edu]> on Thursday August 24, 2000 @08:12AM (#830875)
    A few years ago, more than 90% of all American households halted work and play every evening to catch the evening news...

    Ha, things haven't changed that much, now people stop work and play every Wednesday evening to watch "Survivor"! Yeah, it's kind of a sad turn of events; people haven't turned away from TV, just gotten more pathetic about it.

  • by Rand Race (110288) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @07:16AM (#830876) Homepage
    Actually, the news tends to be very centrist. It actually has a bit of conservative lean since it relies [fair.org] predominantly on conservative think tanks for analysis. While the most cited think tank last year was the centrist, and very establishment friendly, Brookings Institution, the next three most cited are conservative (Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute), and a liberal leaning think tank (Urban Institute) doesn't show up until 10th place. The only thing funnier than watching a liberal twit like Kouric is watching some bloated reactionary crypto-fascist try and convince the world that ABC/Disney is part of a socialist plot.

    Folks, the media is big business, and like the rest of them values profit far, far higher than any political bias. Like most huge corporations they throw money at both, increasingly centrist, political parties while marginalizing far left or right views. The total lack of coverage of the protests in Philly and LA glaringly make my point.

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday August 24, 2000 @05:59AM (#830877) Homepage
    Here, the power of Netizens to tailor their own media is enormous and profound.

    Am I the only one who cringes at the term "netizen"?

    Where to begin...
    Ok, the idea of "tailoring" media doesn't really seem to be much different than what we've been able to do in the past. If I want to read stock quotes, I'll go to the business section of the New York Times. If I want to access them online, I'll go to yahoo.com. How is the online experience "tailored" while the print one is not? In both cases I can go right to what I want; I don't have to read/access any other section if I don't want to.

    Now what about this idea of online news sources being somehow superior to print/broadcast ones? What Jon seems to ignore in a lot of his posts is the issue of authority. Just about anyone can throw together a "news" web page. Why should I believe what I read on it? When I read a paper in the story I can assume it passed through several people's hands to get there. I can be assured that more likely than not, it is reasonably accurate. And while some papers definitely have a bias, whether from the left (Village Voice) or right (New York Daily News), the vast majority of them tend to be somewhat even-handed. Can't be sure about that online, as due to the ease with which web sites can be put up, and security lapses (how often has the print version of the New York Times been hacked?)

    News is not open source. It shouldn't be. If I don't like something I read in the paper, I can't alter it to suit my liking.

    I think serious terminology problems arise when it comes to describing younger Americans' tastes in news. Just as many pollsters and journalists don't consider gaming a significant part of culture, entertainment and technology often aren't considered news.

    Please, find me a single major news source that doesn't cover culture, entertainment, and technology.

    The kids I encounter online devour enormous amounts of information on a daily basis. That makes sweeping descriptions of their information habits suspect.
    But sweeping descriptions of the information habits of the over 50 crowd is ok?

    I have maybe a handful of friends with whom I can discuss current events. A lot of people I know, while highly intelligent, just don't care.

    Personally, I get most of my news online, because that's easier for me. I read the paper on the subway, because I think it handles the news better. For certain things (election coverage) I like CNN. Online news may be gaining in popularity, but I don't think it's inherently better than anything else that's out there. And the rise of 24-hour cable news channels is probably has had a lot more impact in recent years than online ones.

    And if you've read to the end of this article, I salute you. Didn't mean to go on so much, but these whole internet/youth good, old media/age bad thing really irritates me.
    --
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @06:37AM (#830878) Homepage
    I am gross and perverted,
    I'm obsessed and deranged,
    I have existed for years,
    but very little has changed.
    I'm the tool of the government
    and industry too,
    for I was destined to rule
    and regulate you.
    I may be vile and pernicious
    but you can't look away.
    I make you think I'm delicious
    with the stuff that I say.
    I'm the best you can get,
    Have you guessed me, yet?
    I'm the slime
    oozing out
    from your TV set.

    You will obey me as I lead you
    with the garbage that I feed you
    untill the day that we don't need you,
    don't call for help, no one will heed you.

    Your mind is totally controlled
    it has been stuffed into my mould
    and you will do as you are told
    untill the rights to you are sold.

    -------------------------------------------

    This was from way back in pre-internet days :))
    Loved it so much I memorized it!
  • by generic-man (33649) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @05:48AM (#830879) Homepage Journal
    When I ask people why they don't watch the news, they usually reply that it doesn't apply to them. When Princess Diana died, many people observed, "Why does everyone care about this woman? She's just a public figurehead! This doesn't apply to ME!" The local (WCBS, New York CBS affiliate) news last night at 6:00 was overwhelmingly "Survivor"-related, with occasional breaks for weather, sports, and some wire news copy of the plane crash in Bahrain that killed 143 people. ("Bahrain? Where the hell is that? I don't care about that! I don't know any of those people! Now give us some more dirt on 'Survivor'!") I literally laughed out loud when I saw a promo hyping "live team coverage" of the "Survivor" winner on the 11:00 news. The affiliate even produced a 7:30 PM pre-show. That's four consecutive hours of "Survivor."

    The growing popularity of just-for-me cable channels and customizable news sites means that people only care about what's directly relevant to them. It's a stark departure from the earlier days of TV, where everyone watching television could be alerted of news when it happened. If the president were assassinated right now, you could flip to Cartoon Network to watch something more upbeat. If you wanted to catch the news, you would do it on your own time.
  • by Mark F. Komarinski (97174) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @05:41AM (#830880) Homepage
    I get 99.9% of my news from a combination of my Yahoo, NPR, and Slashdot (tech news;). Why not local news? The local channels (I live outside Boston, MA) rarely actually *covers* news. It's all turned into a vague form of investigative reporting. FOX is the worst at this. Their headlines for almost an entire week was "killer automatic doors" and "if your car falls into the river, what do you do?". Yea, that's the hard-hitting journalism that I want to see. I'll bet you a large wad of cash that there was absolutely no coverage of the MPAA or RIAA.

    NPR with "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition" at least does things right: 5 minute updates of national (then regional) headlines, followed by more in depth coverage of some of the headlines. Follow that with stuff that isn't necessarily news, but interesting anyways (NPR 100 - the 100 most influential music albums, or lost-and-found-sound which once covered the shortwave numbers).
  • by arete (170676) <areteslashdot2@x[ ]net ['ig.' in gap]> on Thursday August 24, 2000 @05:50AM (#830881) Homepage
    As a college graduate well under 30, used to regular net access and a caffiene junky, I feel quite prepared to address this issue.

    I love reading the paper (The Chicago Tribune is THE paper in my worldview) But not for news. I read the paper when I find a paper, or when I'm at my parents house, or for the comics. I go here and get NYT email every morning, occasionally I look at CNN.

    Many times I love knowing what's going on. My friends and I are all addicted to the HISTORY channel. When we bombed bin Laden, we stayed up all night watching fox's coverage (fox played CNN's coverage, then Fox anchorpeople during CNN's commercials) I'll never understand why they did that, except Fox must have WAY too much money.

    Plus the "US at WAR" headline was the biggest I've ever seen, 1/2 page just for that. And I got to hear a CNN anchorperson say "Wolf Blitzer will be coming to you ad naseum" REALLY! So I like news.

    But life is busy, I've got things to do. When something important happens, I like to hear right away - print is too slow. But when something important happens it gets better coverage on CNN than any network (exception above) so I watch CNN. The difference is most days "regular" news show play regular stories. I find regular stories coma-inducingly boring. I don't care who slept with who, who's the most popular with 12-17 year old girls or how stars lives really are. There just isn't enough news I care about to fill a show every night unless you include depth in stories. And the people still watching it can't deal with depth of stories, only with soundbites. So I'm doubly sold out - half the news I don't want to see. The other half I don't get enough of!

    At least with CNN I don't have that second problem. But with the net I have neither problem - I can look at a few headlines and go to the stories I want to read - which is pretty much how a newspaper works. I'll probably get a subscription when I grow out of being a cheap b@st@rd.

    So where was I? "Kids" reading news on the net know where it's at. TV doesn't, and hasn't for a long time. There ARE broadcast news shows worth watching - they invariably center around someone with an actual opinion and backbone, and they're usually on PBS (WTTW Ch11, here) All the broadcast news I see is just a couple scanlines higher than "Access Hollywood" in my opinion.

    Oh, and I'll read replies, too.
  • New Open Media i-news lets you ignore all that 'boring stuff' about irrelevant people!

    This great technology allows you to simply never even know about millions of other people and events!

    Fed up with old people talking on the news about shit like economics? Don't give a damn because you earn 35,000 quid a year sitting on your arse doing Flash movies? Just cut it out with i-news!

    "I used to get fed up with old people talking about, like, foreign affairs and stuff", says newly liberated media consumer Natalie. "It's like I don't care about some old Korean people getting worked up about some border somewhere. I wan't even born when the Korean war happened - it was like so dumb, I can't relate to it. But I never see anything about how Napster is the new American Revolution and how the MPAA are doing so much evil in this world."

    And that's not all. By ensuring you _ONLY_ use i-news you can live in an entirely me-centric info-verse. Only stuff that directly affects your wealthy techno-cool urban-hip lifestyle will ever reach you! And That means:

    MORE colour pieces on cool kids like you!
    MORE pseudo philosophical guff about how YOUNG COOL PEOPLE are really way more important than, like, everyone else.
    TOTAL coverage of pointless stupid events like the pre-release demo of naff Doom clone computer games.
    ENDLESS ranting by self appointed pundits on how the Internet is JUST SO WONDERFUL.

    But, remember, i-news also means:

    NO people who use long difficult words.
    NO lusers in suits who 'totally don't have a clue'
    NO pictures of poor people in far away places.

    So, get rid of your t.v. don't buy the papers, and tune in to our short-lived open media web site, where you will be guaranteed to:

    DISAPPEAR UP YOU OWN BACKSIDE

    as you consume endless, meaningless crap while desperately pretending that because you post shit to some bulletin board you are actually part of a community in any meaningful sense.

    Hurt
    Maim
    Destroy
  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @07:48AM (#830883) Homepage Journal
    As opposed to:

    TRADITIONAL TV NEWS

    Our Tradition TV News (TTVN) pre-filters all the news that we think doesn't interest our sponsers, who are of course (albiet indirectly), you, the consumer - er, viewer, who buys our sponsers' merchandise. That means no negative news on things like companies that advertise on our network! We do show some - uh, investigative - reporting on people who refuse to advertise.

    Like money? So do we! So we bring you stories about companies that advertise - I mean, are doing well on our station - I mean, in the marketplace!

    "It's so nice," said some random guy. "I get to hear about the latest blockbuster that the network showing TTVN is producing." That's right, you, too, can learn about the stars personal lives!

    Ever wondered which celebrity sleeping with another celebrity? Now we can find out using our exclusive TTVN helicopters, which we fly over their houses! Plus the latest scandals! With our exclusive TTVN helicopters, we can fly around getting exclusive photos of your favorite football players releaving themselves!

    But even better, since TTVN is trying to get to the widest possible audience, we show:

    MORE color bits on celebrities!
    MORE pseudo philosophical guff about what celebrities and sport stars are doing to help the, um, community!
    TOTAL coverage of pointless stupid events like the end of our latest TV show!
    ENDLESS ranting by self appointed pundits on how the Internet is DESTROYING OUR CIVILIZATION THROUGH PORN!

    But, remember, TTVN also means:

    NO people who use long difficult words - we need to get everyone watching!
    NO intellectuals mumbling on and on - we get specialists who tell it like our audience wants to hear!
    NO pictures of poor people in far away places - that's just depressing to our target audience. Instead we give statistics! Sometimes, when we can, we might decide to show you the head of a starving kid - usually nothing more. Those pictures are depressing.

    That's right, you don't need the Internet for news, your Traditional TV will work just fine! Plus, we're slowly trying to change everyone away from a community member and into a mindless consumer automatron! Our advertisers need to make money, you know. You are, after all, just people with money for the taking.

    Ignore
    Repress
    Omit

  • by ImpactSmash (217625) on Thursday August 24, 2000 @05:40AM (#830884)
    The nightly news is too heavily influenced by advertisers, politics, and personal bias. The networks are more interests in holding the attention of the vast majority, than report relevant information to its community.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

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