Present vs. Future


News in text, video and headline formats will be utterly ubiquitous—available in every room of the house on a variety of appliances, while ticker and other news products will be available in stores, on public transportation, at widely distributed mall kiosks, and at virtually every desktop worldwide. But is this a perfect utopia, or media overload?

Guy Berger, head of the Journalism and Media Studies department at Rhodes University, South Africa:,

“The response to such pessimism is to work vigorously for preserving the democratic and informational importance of journalism, and for connecting it back to communities. The call is also for journalists to survive by growing their role as guides and interpreters in a media terrain that is ever more overcrowded with messages and meanings.”

News is slowly becoming something that the reader not only visits, but experiences. People are immersed in video, chat, audio, discussion and various other forms of interactivity. The public is no longer watching the world go by, but taking part in it and having a say in what goes on.

Nowadays the reader is given so much access to news that he or she knows more than the journalist. Anyone can make a site about news, which greatly hampers the quality of news on the Web—what is authentic and what is amateuristic?

Yet this issue is not a threat, but rather an opportunity. The news producers and news consumers can use this gift to create something between a round table and a conversation, educating everyone. Interactivity and communications technology—in the form of email, up-to-the-minute news by countless users, discussion boards, websites and more—truly make our world and its inhabitants interconnected.

The only catch there is that we will all be connected, subscribed, attached to some form of media at virtually any point in time. According to a study, the market share of subscription media—defined in the report as cable and satellite TV, the internet and mobile telephony—share rose from 11 percent in 1985 to 45 percent in 2000, and it will hit 50.9 percent by 2010!

This extra media spending is coming from what consumers once considered household essentials, such as clothing, food and travel costs. Are we really willing to give up bare essentials and stay in our homes glued to a computer screen?

Some are even predicting grimmer thoughts. People could soon even choose to have an information chip from the media surgically implanted in their body, and be able to recall the news or ideas they want at their convenience. A group of German newspaper designers in 2002 came up with the idea of a "neurotransceiver." It would allow a reader of a newspaper article to use a laser appliance called a "brainbone" to tell a central computer to send radio waves to appropriate areas of the brain. You could not just read the news but smell it, hear it, touch it and taste it, too. Yikes. Sounds interesting, but also a little Matrix-like.

But is that our fate? Are we doomed to be controlled by a computerized media which determines what we see, hear, smell, touch and taste? Uh-oh, better pick up that newspaper...



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