Online media is replacing newspapers and TV. Is that a bad thing?
How the new online media landscape is changing the way the public gets its news.
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Who will we be?
But on top of the questions of revenue there is this: Who are we becoming in the new media world? We have news at our fingertips on smart phones we can scan at a lunch counter. We can watch the news when we want instead of making an appointment to sit down with a network anchor in our living rooms. We have what we want, when we want it.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Is this the end of news?
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And that's good, right?
What is really lost in the new media-consumption world is setting aside time for news. The people at Sunrise Senior Living treat news as a meal. They sit down and take their time and take it in. The students at AU are news grazers, taking in a bit of this and a bit of that as they can – and they offer a glimpse of the future.
As Americans have grown busier, new technologies have found ways to fit the news into tightening schedules and, in the process, they are blurring the lines between different parts of their lives.
It's similar to the way e-mail on mobile devices has blurred the lines. You are always in the loop. With news today, the most important events of the day don't arrive neatly bundled in the paper at breakfast or neatly packaged on TV over dinner. News is a never-ending torrent of information: It's up to you when you want to sample it.
And that can be wonderfully liberating ... or an affliction. We've come to discount having time for things in America. As our lives have sped up, most things, it seems, are sandwiched between other things. Lunch is something between meetings; and while we are waiting for our friends to show up at the restaurant, we scan our e-mail and catch up on correspondence we missed on the five-minute walk over. News is just another item on an overpacked personal agenda – as if every scan of the headlines is a box to check off. We're all individual local news radio stations now: "Give us five minutes with our iPhones and we'll give you the world."
What's lost is reflection: Headlines pass in front of our eyes and they are gone as we leap to the next story.. Education experts tell us, increasingly, that making it in the world is about contextualizing and analysis, and we increasingly don't give ourselves time to do it.
Is that really where the digital news revolution is leading us – a few Google headlines on a coffee break, a few Facebook links before work, and maybe a few YouTube videos before bed?
"The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed," chuckles Tippett, quoting science-fiction writer William Gibson.
Does that mean soon everyone will be constantly checking their Twitter feeds and visiting their favorite news sites to get an understanding of the world?
"No. This is still all new to us, and we're in a manic phase right now," says Tippett. "We're in the 'I want it all, I want it now' phase. But eventually we'll come out of it. It'll settle down."
In other words, it's probably going to be up to us to apply the brakes. For his part, Tippett, who loves the new media world, says the key is self-control, and he has placed some controls on himself. He uses his tablet to read more books than ever, he says. He rarely watches TV, and he allows himself to check his e-mail only twice a day – regardless of what story links it may hold.
IN PICTURES: Is this the end of news?