Wednesday, 25 July 2007

How do you get your news?

Originally people got news via the radio, broadsheet newspapers and occasionally via the cinema screen. This was perfectly fine for many years. However, with the increased use of technology people seek (or should seek) other sources to get a high standard of news.

If you stick with one source, such as the newspaper, it might give you plenty of information, but your views could become biased as you're only getting one angle on events. Also, newspapers have to cater for the majority because if they do that then they are more likely to get a high number of sales. What if the majority like to read about something that you're not interested in - or vice-versa?

Sometimes, the audience is not the only factor in deciding what news is released. It is an unfortunate fact of life the some media sources are heavily influenced by big businesses. For instance, a big business who owns a news network might not want a crisis relating to them broadcast 24/7. There could also be the threat of sponsorship withdrawal. Some news sources could be heavily dependent on sponsors to keep them running. What would happen if a news item put a sponsor in a bad light? The deal could be cancelled and then that news source could cease to exist.

I am a big advocate of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and RSS aggregators. It allows me to get news from several online sources without having to go through each individual website. I can get text-based news, download podcasts and video news and also go straight to the webpage of a particular news item if needed. I can also choose which type of news I receive. If e.g. I don't want to read about Big Brother, then I don't subscribe to any news feeds which would give me that information.

In the morning, I listen to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. I also occasionally watch both local and national news on TV. Yes, most of the TV and radio is BBC, but I still have the variety of RSS-based news sources to keep things more balanced.

Earlier I briefly mentioned podcasts. I think these can be hugely important. Like RSS, it allows you to get news whenever you want and pick the types of news you get. I get a large amount of tech news via this method, but you could get stuff about sport or politics.

Online media means a huge growth in 'user-generated content'. You can get news, commentary and opinions from blogs, wikis and videos. By 'users', I meant the people who would normally receive the content, for instance me. There has been some criticism of this as these people don't necessarily have professional journalism experience. However, just because people don't have that experience doesn't mean they can't do research and backup their content with facts. When I comment on current affairs in this blog I always make sure I use multiple references and use quotations relevant to what I'm talking about. The theory is that this will give my opinions more of a weighting.

I can see a day where there are no newspapers. I could quite easily stop using the likes of TV and radio now and just use the internet for my news. I could go to websites and watched news over a webstream, continue to use RSS and continue to get podcasts and download videos. I'd save money because I wouldn't be subscribing to a newspaper. I wouldn't have to waste time waiting for an item to be discussed on the TV news - I could get information about that item immediately by going online.

So, what do you think?

Technorati tags: News, Online Media, Newspapers, TV, Radio, Information


Daniel R Naylor said...

Personally, I've given up with Radio and TV, as they never seem to have the news when you want to have it (perhaps except for the ticker at the bottom of the so called "24 hour" TV stations). I generally look at the front page of the BBC News home page, and subscribe to the various News feeds using Live Bookmarks in Firefox or, so I can see things at a glance. Occasionally, I do use teletext services, but even they are growing out of favour.

It's all due to the web being made easier to use. With this "Web 2.0" concept that is being propelled forward, it is easy to get, and indeed write, what you want. Why sit in front of a TV waiting for it to be read to you in their time, when you can get it at your own pace?

Branching into the general media, note how there are on-demand players coming out now. 4oD, the iPlayer? People want on demand now, and the web provides it.

Still though, in my opinion, newspapers will be around for a long while yet. They still are "on-demand" news, in a sense. They might not update as fast as the web, or TV, or radio, but they can be read at your own leisure, and sometimes, it is nice to be able to read a newspaper, rather than sit at a computer screen. They are especially useful when you don't have a net connection, like when you are travelling, or waiting for a lecture to start. Yeah, it contains stuff you might not be interested in, but then again, you might find something that you are interested in!