Consuming News in the Digital Era

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Chapter 1 of Media & Culture by Campbell, Martin & Fabos discusses at length the population’s movement through the five eras of communication: Oral, Written, Print, Electronic and Digital. Looking at this progression from the oral to the digital communication era, I began to ponder the effect this has had on the dispersing of news content.

In the oral and written communication eras, news really could only travel through word of mouth, and mass communication was unheard of. Since there was no convenient method of spreading news content throughout the masses, and the masses were largely illiterate, important news stories were only available to those in power.

With the invention of the printing press came the print era and opened up news, and other media content, to the masses. News, or history, could not only be documented, but it could also be shared with the lay people via cost and time effective printing methods.

In the electronic era, news was still largely consumed via printed newspapers, but also through audio and visual technologies such as the television and the radio. The interesting shift from the electronic to the digital is that now we can consume written, audio and visual media all on one device, such as a smartphone, through the use of the internet.

Working for a local newspaper where there are stacks of printed newspapers two feet away from my desk, even I consume my news, for the most part, via my smartphone. This is something that the newspaper industry is very aware of and so they ensure to have an online presence, not only with a website, but with social media profiles as well, in order to stay relevant.

I have to say that today, the main way I find out about top news stories is via trending topics on either Facebook or Twitter. For example, when gay marriage recently became legal in all 50 states, it was the pervasiveness of the topic on my Facebook newsfeed that drew my attention to it. Of course, I then went to the local newspaper’s website for a more in-depth account, but the initial news blast came from social media.

So I am curious…how do you find out about today’s top news stories? Tweet me @allymp507 and let me know!

xoxo Newhouse, New Ally 💁

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