Journalism & accelerating technology
Just for fun, I recently created a video of my beach vacation, posted it to Facebook and shared it with the world.
The entire production process took about 30 seconds and I reached hundreds of my “friends” online.
Doing the same thing 20 years ago, when I was in journalism school, would have taken far longer, moving images from one analog tape to another with a large and expensive editing bay. Sharing my work with the world? Almost impossible.
As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone this summer , it’s worth taking some time to reflect on how quickly our world keeps changing — and considering whether we’re capable of keeping up.
Back in 2007, Sree Sreenivasan, who is now the chief digital officer for New York City, was asked to predict the technology we would be using today .
He started out by compiling a list of all the technology that did not exist even 10 years before that. The list included a number of innovations that most of us could not live without today — GPS, HDTV, text messaging, cable modems, Google, Facebook, USB flash drives, Xbox. It also featured some that few people would consider essential today, such as Myspace.
Without being too specific, Sreenivasan came pretty close to identifying where we are: “What I do know is that technology will continue to get cheaper, faster and better in the years ahead. But with that will come more dangers — from cybercrime to loss of privacy.”
What’s truly frightening is that 2007 might have been just the tipping point for technological accelerations.
Rapid change affects the ways we consume news and information, how we interact, our use of natural resources and the broad reach of individual humans. We can use that change for better or worse, as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman points out in his November 2016 book, “Thank You for Being Late.”
“What one person — one single, solitary person — can now do constructively and destructively is also being multiplied to a new level,” Friedman writes.
For journalists and media consumers, these exponential growths should be inspiring. The disruptions obviously are painful — in job losses, particularly. But this period of journalism also holds great potential for the future.
One could argue that we sit on the cusp of journalism’s greatest age, as Peter Herford, one of my former journalism professors at Columbia University, recently posted on Facebook.
“There is more investigative journalism being practiced today than ever before,” he said, “yes with fewer resources than when the behemoths of journalism were at work, but collectives, cooperatives and the worldwide reach of the internet and social media have multiplied the power of journalists.”
Mistakes will be made, and not every news outlet will find success.
We still need to find ways for journalists to make money.
Undoubtedly, the end product will look different than it has for the past half-century.
But journalism today reaches more audiences, engages them in meaningful new ways and has more impact than ever.
Andrew Conte is the director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University.