Information is being lost due to the digital divide

Edwin J. Viera, Columnist

If you ask people what the most valuable commodity in the world is, you will hear a variety of different answers. Some may say water, others say oil or gasoline, and while those are valuable they aren’t the most valuable in the world today. In this day and age, the most valuable commodity in the world is information.

These days, all of our information doesn’t come in the traditional sense… newspapers, television, radio, and magazines. People use their phones, and other media apps to get their news, sometimes they go to social media sites for information. But are they getting the truth?

People that get their news on social media, blogs, and other online sites may get an opinion rather than the hard news that they’re seeking. Unless the blogger meticulously checked sources to provide both sides of the story, we fall for an opinion.

If people are settling for opinion based news rather than fact, does this mean that we can’t stomach the real news… or better yet the truth? Meanwhile there is a bigger problem involved; online opinion based news is practically journalism nowadays. It makes me question what will happen to print media.

Newspapers all over the country are starting to fall on hard times because advertisers, their main source of income, are moving much of their funds to online mediums, a faster way of conveying information.

Since some online advertisements are only thirty seconds and much cheaper, it is more economically sound for people to do that. Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune are looking for the Internet as a new medium so they can stay afloat. For someone who wants to go into print journalism what happens now?

Will the world of journalism as we know it suddenly disappear into our cell phones, tablets, and computer screens? Has the digital divide grown too big between generations? Could the entire industry of print media one day have to write its own obituary? I can’t help but wonder.

In a world of growing and adopting media, have we become media illiterate?

Recently, an article entitled “The Hamilton Mare” was about how there was going to be a remake of the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” in 2017 starring Jonah Hill. It sent shock waves around the Internet because quite a few people believed it. Apparently, not too many people read the whole article because at the bottom was a disclaimer stating that the article was a complete fake.

This story was believed because many people don’t read entire articles, but rather just read the headline and believe that the rest of the story is true. In 1998, the average attention span was 12 minutes. In 2008, the average attention span was calculated to be five minutes and it is still decreasing.

In addition to decreased attention spans, society has developed into a media consuming world where we want news instantly. Some requirements for journalists now are that they need to be able to shorten stories to fit the 140-character limit of Twitter. Then came the creation of an app called News on Demand.

News on Demand presents three top news stories presented by different news outlets. The first story takes at least one minute for the reader, and then below that is another story that’s anywhere from two minutes and up. It’s a way to conquer the problem of the ever decreasing attention span, but that could still cause an increase in media illiteracy.

People never really get all the news, but with more news apps than ever, people are only absorbing the news that they want to read. Print journalism has become a dying form of media, but it’s never going to completely die out. Sure cell phones, tablets, and computers have taken over, but they will never completely dominate our media consumption.

The film Mashed Media shows how the Chicago Tribune, a once mighty force in the world of print journalism, is now facing hard times trying to keep up with blogger and Internet sources. Now the Tribune hires bloggers to boost their blog network called Chicago Now. It almost seems that bloggers are trusted a little bit more than actual journalists.

Media is an ever-changing landscape that requires people to adapt to it quickly. Journalists are starting to retreat to the Internet so they can maintain a career. Print media is starting its decline, but it may never completely go away.

In a world where Facebook has become a news outlet, where many people view the headline and take it as the true meaning of article, it’s hard to tell if anyone is getting the truth, or the real news.

While many people think they are getting hard news they are in fact deviated from the truth. Media illiteracy is high due to people losing interest in reading something that may not interest them as much as something else. These are the dark ages of journalism because people don’t really see the light.

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