16 December 2008

The Digital Divide

Posted by Dan Satterfield

We live in what I call Gutenberg times. 

The single greatest invention in the thousand year period from the beginning of the common era in year 1 up through the year 1980 was the printing press. It revolutionized the entire world. The availibility of the  printing press changed every single aspect of society, and led directly to the Renaissance.

After the printing press, the way things were done, and the way people got information changed in less than two decades! It’s now happening again. The internet has changed the way people get their information, and communicate it. 

I will not bet that the New York Times (My former employer, who treated me very well by the way!) will still be publishing a newspaper in 5 years. If you made a bet back in 1992 that the NYT would no longer be publishing in 2012, would you have any takers??

I doubt it.

Somewhere, I have a clipping from the Huntsville Times back in 1994. In an article about the new internet fad, the writer said that it was just that, a fad which would soon pass. It immediately reminded me of what some newspapers said about radio in the early 20’s. That is why I saved it!

My Mom in Oklahoma has no computer, and still takes the newspaper. I know of nobody under 30 who still takes the paper. The digital divide is huge. The Detroit Free Press announced today that they will cut home delivery to 3 days a week starting next year!

This is a bit concerning. Why? Because, newspaper newsrooms have usually hired the best and most experienced reporters. The Washington Post broke Watergate. Look up New York Times V. Sullivan on Google. A free press is a mandatory requirement for a free society. ANY free society. Will Newspaper newsrooms still have enough money to pay for really good journalists, if they are published only online for free? No one knows yet.

Now, I have worked nearby a TV newsroom for most of my career, and while there is a big difference in how they cover news, compared to newspapers, they typically have not had someone who researches in depth stories and may not appear on air at all each day. (WHNT, my current employer DOES by the way, much to the chagrin of some local scam artists).

The changes we are living through are hitting TV stations hard, and the economic woes worldwide have been a double whammy. Still TV stations are taking up the slack in many places. I know a lot of TV folks who are nervous about the “new world order”. I am not. It’s going to be a brave new world, and people will still want good quality weather information.

I never got into Meteorology to get rich, and I suspect, it’s not going to accidently happen to me! I got into it because I love forecasting, and science. Those things will still be around in the new world.

One last unrelated (semi) thing. I see that Microsoft is asking people to not use their browser until they get an emergency security patch out.

My advice?


Steve Jobs Rules!

I feel better now, thank you.