Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finding the News

Recently I read that Jon Stewart had challenged the “real news” TV people to begin getting their job done, i.e., to start reporting the news. What he said really resonated with me.

Two or three times every day I sit down in front of the TV to have a snack, eat lunch, whatever. I flip through several news channels, CNN, Headline News, CNBC, Fox and MSNBC. What I find are either commercials or a reporter being blown away by strong winds or people yelling at each other about this or that subject or a story about a missing child. So I flip through again. I find more of the same. So I give up and go to ESPN for yesterday’s sports results.

Obviously I’m not alone. That’s why so many people get more of their news from Jon Stewart and online than from networks whose core competency is supposed to be delivering news.

I may be retro, but I still rely on newspapers to keep me informed. And in my case I read them the old fashioned way, in my living room, not on the computer. These days, newspapers are not an efficient product. Too much wasted space. Too costly. Not green. So I’m not surprised that readership is down and staying viable is a struggle.

But I’m sure that as newspapers head toward history’s trash bin of outdated products they won’t be replaced by TV news. The news will be online – delivered on demand, through small mobile products, customized for personal interests, and always up-to-date.

It may be that if the news networks got their act together they’d be able to slow down their inevitable demise. But that would only be a holding action. In the meantime, they’re a waste of time – and at least in the short term Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will continue to thrive.


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