Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Pace of ‘net ruining journalism

I truly hope that the print news industry survives – and not just for the mere vain of being able to hold and read a paper and sip back coffee in the morning.

By the time I have that newspaper in my hand, only hours after it has been printed – the news, in many cases, is already old in comparison to the updates that can found online. When and how do we say “enough” to constant updates? How do we regulate just how many times we need to be informed by constant 24-hour cable news and online newspaper updates? Well, this is a question, as a third-year journalism student, that I still cannot answer, but determining the value of print journalism, personally, is something of extreme importance to me.

My questions are rooted in fundamental beliefs and support of the print newspaper industry. I will acknowledge and agree that, yes, the news industry is in the process of a great transition amidst an economic hardship, but if there is one thing that must be articulated about news media today, it is that we cannot lose ourselves in social media tools becoming robotic versions of our reality and the fact that we were once actually immersed in daily life, rather than a constant flow of updates on a computer. The Chelsea Whitton on Linkedin or Facebook happens to be entirely different from who I really am.

I’ll choose reading a print version of a newspaper over any online news content. There is an authenticity to holding the New York Times in the morning as I sprint to class, and this paper as well. The minute I log onto the computer for news updates it’s over – it’s a never ending media train wreck that never ceases.

For me, print is enough. I understand this isn’t the general consensus especially amidst college students like me. Our lives revolve around events, which are broadcast through social media, tweets and incessant Blackberry updates. I don’t necessarily view these things as bad but I feel as if they are taking away from the very essence journalism has provided the public throughout history – quality stories and facts highlighting the news in our lives. A 160 character maximum tweet cannot suffice to do so.

Public interest has been lost in the public domain. Who will voice opinions and facts accurately when anyone can tweet, blog and comment on every story, video and post?

I realize my views might be contentious in today’s economic climate – especially in the news industry. But after staring at a computer screen for hours I have nothing to show for it. I am becoming increasingly annoyed with the number of websites my education requires me to check, the blogs I need to have in my feed, the Facebook updates, the new tweets and the Blackberry updates.

But what if we don’t care about social media or find all these websites a distraction? That’s the question I’ve been trying to answer for the whole semester.

But I can’t seem to find one. Maybe you feel the same way. What if you don’t want to spend your day on Twitter, on every mainstream news network, flipping through every channel, scanning every CNN breaking news update?

I know I sound like a 50-year-old newsy but I truly am not ready to sacrifice my eyes and my time to stare at a computer screen for 15 hours a day. As much as I try to embrace a move towards new media – the more it is corroding me to my very core. I feel as if our culture is being permeated with facts, floating around that can’t be matched with any needed knowledge. We have too many options for what we are going to be paying attention to, that we don’t know what makes us happy.

I refuse to turn my passion for journalism into an egotistical social media-spewing generic machine. Where did public interest go? Now, it’s personal gain.

Maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. I hope not. I don’t want to live and see the print newspaper business become an archaic way of chronicling daily history. The web is too vast. News will be lost amongst all the tweets, toots, beeps, pokes, IM’s and whatever else is making noise around out there.

Chelsea Whitton is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].

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  • M

    Mike P.Jun 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm


    Don’t listen to idiots like “Weren.” The Internet has provided cowards like him/her the opportunity to be rude creeps. And that is precisely what he/she is.

    I’m all in favor of your point of view. I’m a former “newsy” who left the business for a more-secure career. What I really despise about the “new media” is the utter lack of trust that these bloggers, Tweeters and, yes, younger journalists are bringing to the table.

    Google is feeding me daily updates on “news stories” in my field, and more than half clearly are written by people without journalism training. Even much of the coverage (not all, thankfully) I read or watch in traditional, respected media outlets is increasingly becoming more biased. I can spot in a minute when a reporter goes into a story with a predetermined bias rather than talking to people on ALL sides of an issue then representing ALL points of view.

    That’s how I was trained in journalism school. You’re a disinterested party paid to fairly present an event or issue. And I mean disinterested to the point that if you’re covering politics you should not even think about voting. I gave up that right for years while I was a journalist.

    Recently, my university created a school that relies heavily on social media training. When I sparred with the director over the credibility factor of trained journalists vs. bloggers and Tweeters, you know what she said? “Your type of journalism hasn’t been around that long.” So out it should go!

    Keep up the good work. 24-hour news can be a good thing. You can adjust to that. Just remember that as a journalist, your role is to stay completely out of the way and let your writing skills reflect our daily lives.

  • D

    Dan GigliottiApr 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm


    First-year journalism major, junior at the university.

    I have meditated over this for two semesters, and I am asking myself if there is a bigger agent at work, here, other than or in addition to the mere inception of new digital networks and social media tools. Simply because they are created, doesn’t mean that we have to use them and certainly doesn’t force us to be dependant on them.

    So, what is the compelling force behind our persistant use of this technology?

  • R

    Randolph T. HolhutApr 29, 2010 at 8:26 am

    As a 48-year-old newsy (and Collegian alum), I find it interesting that a 20-something prefers print over pixels. Of course, I’d expect nothing less from a journalism major.

    I have a deep and abiding love for print, but print has abandoned me. When The Boston Globe decided to double its newsstand price while cutting back on its coverage, that’s when my 30-year-old habit of buying the Globe ended. Being asked to pay more and get less is not a viable strategy for newspapers, especially when you can get more and fresher news online for free.

    But I do agree with Chelsea that social media is a time-gobbler that adds to the data smog that envelops us. But you have to separate that from real news outlets, and the ability we now have to read papers from all over and not be limited by what your corner store decides to stock.

    Nobody has a business model yet for online journalism, but it’s not going away.

    For a reporter, it offers a way to tell stories using more tools than ink on a page. The depth of print plus the immediacy of radio and TV is a tough combination to beat, and to be able to use words, pictures, video and sound to tell a story allows you to go beyond static words on a page.

    For a reader, it offers a way to get the news faster and more complete. I can’t get a city final edition of the Globe in Vermont, but there’s one waiting for me in my e-mail box every morning.

    This is a great time to be a journalist. Really. There are so many possibilities and those who are skilled and nimble enough to embrace them will do fine. I hope, Chelsea, that you will be one of them.

  • A

    AlexApr 29, 2010 at 12:31 am


    Well said. You have a healthy skepticism — something many of our hyperventilating colleagues somehow have forgotten.

    Our new tools are helping us drown in information, yet we don’t necessarily understand more. That requires slower, more thoughtful coverage and reading.
    Today’s changes appear to make more business sense than journalistic sense. (And whether they even make good business sense is still iffy.)

    We have some wonderful tools for the high-quality production and presentation of news. Get to know them, and drop what you feel isn’t relevant. There are only so many hours in a day.

    Keep your skepticism. Continue to question the prevailing opinion. It’s the best reporting tool you have.

  • C

    CharlieApr 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I’m with you to an extent. I love newspapers as much as you and despise many of the Internet’s so-called innovations. I think the insane pace of the news cycle is what we should worry about. Stories can’t be properly fact checked, sourced, accurate at the speed they come out now.

  • W

    WerenApr 28, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Really, I find this article to be wholly ignorant. Third year journalism student? Really? I think you may have been corrupted by one of your professors who cannot handle the truth. There is authenticity to holding a newspaper true. I like having the WSJ on the train. But I also read my RSS reader on my Blackberry on the train. You know, some of the greatest writing on just about every topic of news that is covered will never see the printed page. “A never ending media train wreck?” That would be implying that news, in and of itself, is generally a disaster. The 24-hour news cycle is a beautiful thing. Granted, you can drown in it but a third-year journalism student who cannot handle the news (and that is what what is online, like it or not) will never survive in the new world. Might as well get out of the profession now. You know that your beloved NYT is on the forefront of online journalism? It invests in it, develops it and is trying to create the blueprint where it will pay our bill again. Does that break you fragile little heart?

  • J

    JeffApr 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Wow, I’m 50 and have a completely different viewpoint. I’ve been in newspaper journalism since I was 19. I’ve seen newspaper owners make a great living on people’s backs since then.

    Get an iPad and you won’t have that staring at the screen overwhelmed feeling. Don’t like Twitter or constant updates? Don’t use it.

    Print newspapers are bad for the environment, too expensive to produce and quickly becoming irrelevant.

    Better times are coming – without paper and ink – wait and see.

  • J

    John from MinneapolisApr 28, 2010 at 5:02 pm


    I *am* a 50-year-old newsy, and your column really resonated with me. We’re becoming slaves to technology. Last month the LA Times had a story on a site where people can rate other people, like they rate restaurants on Yelp.

    The site’s founder commented that if you want to manage your online reputation, you’ll need to log onto his site, and it would also be a good idea to recruit people to write positive reviews of you.

    So because someone created this website, all of a sudden he has a claim on my time? All of a sudden I have to find time amid my job, my family and my increasingly scarce leisure time to log onto a site I never asked to be included in? And round up other people to spend their time doing it, too? I call bullshit.

    I’m with you, Chelsea.