Pace of ‘net ruining journalism

By Chelsea Whitton

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]