Friday, September 15, 2006

Four Words or Less

We all learned the power of the sound bite in the 1980s. Although I can't really remember much about mainstream-media before then, I remember thinking - even as a kid - that news broadcasts were constantly getting sketchier and sketchier. I sometimes wondered if it was because there is always an increasing number of things the diverse public cares about. The more topics you try to cover in a one hour broadcast, the less detail you can give. In the 1990s everyone was lamenting the decline of journalism into blatant sensationalism, but it remained an inevitable process. We all saw it happening but our dismay did nothing to stop it.

Now that the internet is a primary news outlet it seems to me like another inevitable change should be here. The pendulum should be swinging the other way. There is no longer a need to condense news to fit into limited bandwidth. Execs should no longer have to make judgments as to which stories are the most newsworthy. The public is free to respond to what stories they care about in real time. They can choose to absorb as much or as little detail as they wish. Now that information is so readily accessible it seems like the news agencies would be focused on covering as wide a spectrum as possible, or seeking an edge over their competitors by providing the most comprehensive and insightful analysis of the more complex issues.

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