Grab bag! (Part three)

7 Oct

I love me some Facebook, but…

(Note: Go see The Social Network! I thought it was a good movie. And the only other options right now are five subpar horror flicks. Rent those for free from your local public library.)


Plus Jesse Eisenberg is a total hottie...

I love Facebook. I really do. I check it every day before I go to school. I use it to share my thoughts with others, keep in touch with people I don’t get to see a lot and find out what’s happening with my favorite companies and media outlets.

That being said, I was taken aback when my first amendment professor told us the latest version of OnStar — a communication system included in some GM vehicles — will have”apps,” including one for Facebook. OnStar will be able to read you wall posts and let you respond to them, all while you’re cruising down the highway.

Is this necessary? I certainly don’t think so.  It’s probably not healthy to spend every waking moment connected to the digital world. Researchers have already found that our ability to concentrate is being shot to hell the more wired we become.  When I was in Spain this summer, I was sans cell phone for most of the trip. It was nice to not be tied to an electronic device, constantly waiting for the vibration that signals someone needs me. It all begs the question, just because we can be constantly connected, Should we?


Plus, I was in Spain. So that rocked too.

What lies ahead…

Unfortunately, I don’t know that the digital lifestyle, or our nation’s addiction to Facebook, will ever fade. Some people argue Facebook will go the way of MySpace, but I’m not so sure. I discuss developments on Facebook with my friends every day. Multiple times every day. Is your relationship “Facebook official?” Have you seen the post I left you on Facebook? Can you believe that picture she tagged me in? And so forth…

The children of today will never know life without the Internet. I myself can barely remember when my mother didn’t have a cell phone. Apparently, 92% of children in the U.S. have an online presence of some kind, be it a picture or their very own profile on a networking site. That’s a heck of a lot of kids online.

So what does it all mean for journalism? Multimedia, multimedia, multimedia. Our readers/consumers aren’t content with being passive receptors. They want interactive. They want influence. They want entertainment.

Unfortunately, I think the industry is still having a hard time adjusting to all of this. Especially on college campuses. (I’m going to pick on my own, the University of Kansas, a little bit.)

I love my school’s newspaper. We’re popular and we’re successful. In part because we put out a good product. But we also have a very captive audience and limited competition. So it’s hard to see a reason to change our ways. We’re trying, for sure. But our multimedia elements continually leave me disappointed. We had one focus — print — for 100 years. It’s easy to make our online presence an afterthought. But it’s also a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong; good writing will always be in vogue. But finding a way to enhance this as we move forward will be vital. There’s a reason the Hearst Competition – the “Pulitzer Prize” of college journalism — has a multimedia component. I would love to see my school’s name on that list in the future and I know our staff members can make it happen.


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