RE: Are the newspapers the most convenient medium for news?
Daniel Mollenkamp, studied at The College of William & Mary
It’s nice to have been requested to answer a question, I suppose, even if it was a bot that did the requesting. So, here’s a brief pass at whether or not “the newspapers” are the “most convenient medium of news”: They’re not.
Not if by “the newspapers” you mean traditional ink papers run from a press. I say this as someone who’s worked in both print and digital journalism, and who at one point actually had a clips booklet with disintegrating pages cut out of a newspaper. Incidentally, during a brief period of homelessness, I lived on a publisher’s graceful largess in a room above the printing press that he was having a hard time renting out.
Back to the question at hand: The convenience of print papers was surpassed by the absolute convenience of digital media, which can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection. Actually, the ease with which this form of media is consumed and produced is part of the problem we’re now having with it.
Media is created and shared so cheaply that almost anyone can do it, and everyone seems to have a stake in it. One of the ways you might look at fake news is as a phenomenon that arises because people don’t vet or source articles before sharing them. This is partly why I think fake news, as it is billed in political terms, is a fake problem.
People share articles without vetting the claims in them, or even without really reading them. They look at a headline for an article on social media, if they’re diligent maybe a sentence or ‘graph or two. Then they spread it because it confirms their intuitions on the matter. Hence, the articles don’t really influence political opinion, they’re symptomatic of a different problem. It’s more a way of signaling or triangulating your position than of informing it.
So, if by “the newspapers” you mean organizations that print and sell news then this is another question altogether. The institutions which we’ve trusted to safeguard our facts don’t have the power to do so. They’re operating on a level field with randos organizing from a basement in California, or in Russia or Ukraine for that matter. This new system is good at catalyzing diverse minority opinions. It is not good at offering a hierarchy of trustworthiness for the average reader. In my opinion, this is no loss. Not necessarily. The public trust in media was built on a sort of illusion, anyway. But it does present a web of opportunities and challenges that have to be navigated. Likely, this will create new models and new winners (a new elite) and losers. But ultimately, it does seem likely that a new hierarchy will emerge. It just may look and smell different than the old conglomerates that we’re currently used to.