The New America Foundation hosted Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen to speak about the New Digital Age, sharing their views about the growing effect of the internet on individuals, nations, and the global community. One interesting topic was a forward look at where we will get news in the future.
When I was growing up, most of my friends' parents read two newspapers each day to get the news – this was before television; radio spotlighted Edward R. Morrow and Walter Cronkite, but mostly was 5-minutes of highlights on the hour.
Television entered the scene as 'moving picture newspapers', evolving to at least two broadcasts per evening – dinnertime and bedtime - with the news anchor reporting facts and offering a commentary view of the story. After a while, families dropped one newspaper, relying more on the broadcasts from ABC, CBS, NBC, and some local newscasts.
Cable added explosive growth in news programming with an emphasis on being 'first on the street' and digesting the story into soundbites. Quick and easy access to the distilled news was readily available all the time – an enticing alternative to spending time reading and watching the news.
Blogs have expanded the field even more – individuals share news, comments, and opinions on a wide variety of topics of current importance and have replaced paper and television sources for the connected community.
Recent events demonstrate the significance of individuals in the news process - phone camera images, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media updates are scooping other sources in 'getting to air' first.
Schmidt and Cohen prognosticated the changes will continue to morph, with individuals (amateur and professional) as the source of the 'on-the-scenes' instant coverage and the traditional news organizations offering verification and fact-checking of initial reporting.
Like deja vu, readers are again seeking multiple sources and drawing their own conclusions about what information to retain and discard. Traditional news sources are simply data points instead of the definitive source of news.
As in education, the developing skill is effective filtering of a growing volume of inputs; the result is knowledge and a goal is it's practical application (let's make something useful).