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Deciding What is News: Channels of Discourse-Signification, Representation and Ideology: Viral Media Streaming Ecology

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“Social media is a new way to communicate, report and share information amongst friends, family, and colleagues online, as well as meeting people with similar i

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TV Production Studio and news selection Process

TV Production Studio and news selection Process

News TV network that has news sets for anchors with TV Cameras and boom mics on trollies, offices and desks, waiting rooms and meeting rooms, production and director's tech rooms

News TV network that has news sets for anchors with TV Cameras and boom mics on trollies, offices and desks, waiting rooms and meeting rooms, production and director's tech rooms

VBS.TV online television network streaming 24 hour original documentaries, mixes of pop and underground culture, humanitarian issues, music, movies, travel nd international news

VBS.TV online television network streaming 24 hour original documentaries, mixes of pop and underground culture, humanitarian issues, music, movies, travel nd international news

Google News Timeline: you can view news from archives, blog posts,magazine, scanned newspapers, sports, music, movies. You can view multiple sources concurrently. Easy to follow news an gather information related to relevant source

Google News Timeline: you can view news from archives, blog posts,magazine, scanned newspapers, sports, music, movies. You can view multiple sources concurrently. Easy to follow news an gather information related to relevant source

CNN's full screen of state-of the art technology displaying multiple screen for new coverage

CNN's full screen of state-of the art technology displaying multiple screen for new coverage

CNN introduces holographic reporting in the new age of reporting 21st century contemporary news

CNN introduces holographic reporting in the new age of reporting 21st century contemporary news

New emerging media for news and information emerging globally

New emerging media for news and information emerging globally

Technology that permits and encourages horizontal editing. Internet technology allows media to quickly correct their mistakes, but they do nothing to address a critical issue - the erosion of trust in the accuracy of the news

Technology that permits and encourages horizontal editing. Internet technology allows media to quickly correct their mistakes, but they do nothing to address a critical issue - the erosion of trust in the accuracy of the news

News on the Internet and the Extension of Reportage

The Background on the Need to Communicate

The history of news gathering and dissemination goes back to the times of 'exploration' and 'colonization' of known and unknown peoples and lands. The explorers sent back their news to the 'mother country' for a motley crew of readers and would-be investors. The decision as to what's news and what's not news took shape in different stages of news reportage and dissemination from the beginning of journalism. This was the beginning of the spin doctrine that is so common place today. Which means that the news were designed to sparked public interest and following, and the actual distorting and exaggerating of the news event being reported. In those days, reporters were all sorts of men with different interests and pursuits. The same nations which controlled physical transportation, one way in which Imperial powers fought for more acquisitions of land and trading systems, were the ones that first constructed the first news networks that to sell information to the world's newspapers The system of transportation through shipping and information gathering and selling were important in helping define what is news and helped pattern the relationships between colonizer and colonized. These agencies built their news route and branch offices in the colonial world when they 'opened it up'. This enabled them to collect their own intelligence and demand on Commercial information peaked, on stocks, currencies, commodities, harvests and extractive processes. In Europe, they used pigeon and horses to join various cable system, for instance, cable was laid down to improve and provide for faster and quickest flow of intelligence and information around central Europe. This widespread growth in communications technology extended the frontiers of knowledge and transformed the environment in which we live. The application of the communications process varies from country to country. The old international information order meant that that the powers of disseminating information was a domestic matter and the media in developing nations was left to function in a non-governmental, autonomous sphere. UNESCO noted that the media of the richer nations was a way in which the domination of world public opinion or a source of moral and cultural pollution. Culture and how it is organized influences the way a country handles its messages and the content.

The growth of political ideology and hardening of attitudes, led to the confrontation between East and West and the political independence of countries formerly subjugated by colonial rule. Also, the goodwill to remedy and redress these wrongs, was tempered by a liberal dosage of national self-interest. In the process, news and wire services were now placed on the computer in digital form, and this facilitated communication with other sources of information and distribution. Dependence on information, which has created a social hierarchy, got broken down and people now find themselves exposed to TV information channels. This new technology has also permanently altered social relations, and it opened wider national debate. The conflict between newly independent countries and their rulers is not only about the plight of the past, but It has to do with the reality of the present and the concerns of the day as reflected in the news. Race has been an ever present state of affairs.

Packaging News in the Age of Technology

The news program is structured like a newspaper. The day's most important story is the lead, and the first two sections are generally devoted to the other important hard news of the day. Most of these stories are domestic news, usually about political or economic happenings, much of it originating from Washington. Features, which take up the remain sections, are more often on topics of social importance or interest, such as health; and television journalists like to end the program with an amusing human interest anecdote, of the 'man bites the dog' genre.

There are people , or actors who populate the news and activities that become newsworthy. Journalists say the the news ought to be about individuals than groups or social processes; and by and large, they achieve their aim. Most news is about individuals, although they may be in conflict with groups or impersonal forces such as "inflation" and "communism, or something like that. National news is by definition about the nation, and so the most frequent actors in the new are inevitably individuals who play a role in national activities(e.g., Tiger Woods, etc.) They could be well-known people, ordinary people prototypical of the groups or aggregates that make up the nation. The Knowns, furthermore, could be political, economic, social, or cultural figures; they could also be holders of official positions or powers behind thrones who play official roles. Knowns are a combination of people. Some are assumed by journalists to familiar names among the audience; others have appeared frequently in the news and are therefore well-known to the journalists. some are not necessarily known by name but occupy well-known positions, like governor of a large state or mayor of a troubled city.(Gans)

The news has dealt with race because of the primary social division in the news has been racial, although this was largely a consequence of racial flare-ups in the 1960s and 1970s. Racial news featuring whites reflected a dichotomy with public officials and upper middle class citizens who sought to advance racial integration and less affluent whites who demonstrated against it being deemed most noteworthy. the news also paid attention to racial differences, but did not often deal with income differences among people, or even with people as earners of income. Some of the news dealt with stories about the successful entry of women into previously all-male occupations and institutions. Ideology was deemed significant in communist nations and among parties and adherents of the Left and Right, both overseas and domestically. Although the news distinguishes between conservative, liberal and moderate politicians and party wings, these are perceived as shades of opinion; and being flexible, they are not considered ideologies. The news were decided based on race, sex, ideology class and age. these still are what makes or is decided as news.

The recent introductions and improvements along with development of the technology of reporting, for example, shorthand, telegraphy, photography, microphones, satellites, cell phones, lap-tops, twittering, Internet, emailing Youtube, video-casting and so on, these have increased rather than simplify the theoretical problems of objectivity in the news. News has acquired a new and powerful authority from the size and scope of the new and increasingly vast contemporary audience, that the business of governments has long focuses on, and is now focused on issues which journalism selects for salience and priority. Every step that has been taken towards enlightenment involves carrying the burden of misconceptions and past conceptions of observing civilizations. All the explorers and today's reporters works alone, because he brings with him a baggage and totality of the past observing which has become part of his culture and his conceptual apparatus.

Information is also closely related to economic hegemony and the extension of power and influence; and those countries, which have ample means of communication, use information as a means to further national, economic and political objectives. This power, then in TV news, is harnessed in such a way that it holds us hostage to the channel we are watching. A tease or commercial is used to keep the viewer watching the news. During the news program, the tease does not stop there, because what is known as 'bumpers' and 'teases' are used to keep one watching through use of 'promises of exclusive stories' and 'tape', 'good looking anchors', 'helicopters', 'team coverage', 'hidden cameras' and better journalism. And when the news is finished, you are pleaded with 'do not touch that dial'. Whether you know it or not, we are programmed to watch news by programmers. Even with a remote in ones hand, we are likely to stay tuned to the channel we have been watching. This is why the best news program may not have ratings as high as a news program with strong lead-in.

In the 1990s a corporate control of the media created a lot of concern. Then came the notion that the internet or digital communications will set us free. This is hardly unprecedented because every major new electronic media technology this century, from film, AM radio, Shortwave radio, FM radio, facsimile broadcasting, terrestrial television broadcasting, Cable TV and satellite broadcasting, has spawned similar utopian notions. Viewers and listeners were told how these new technologies would crush the existing monopolies over media, culture and knowledge and open way for a more egalitarian and just social order.

In 1998, the CEO of Cisco Systems even went further to say that the Internet will have the same impact as the Industrial revolution had, but instead of that happening in 100 years, it will happen in seven years. Writers from Nicholas Negroponte and Douglas Rushkoff to George Gilder and old Newt Gingrich informed us that we are entering a period of fundamental social change like we have never seen before. But the claim for what the Internet will do to media and communications are no less sweeping. Negroponte went as far as to say that the Internet will be the most enabling technology of all media-TV,Radio, newspapers, magazines and so on. The Internet, it is claimed, had the potential to undermine corporate and commercial control of the media. Perry Barlow neatly observed this by dismissing concerns about media mergers and concentration by saying that the big media firms are 'merely rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic'. But the commercial system has merely donned a new set of clothes, the internet is run by Big commercial firms and the content subject their whims and profit. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Converging Divergence and the New Spin

Most media analysts from Marshal McLuhan to Noam Chomsky, have shown, television and print news cater to the corporate and political entities who created them, and make sure they keep them in business. But even if the original intentions of the media were to manipulate the American psyche by deadening our senses and winning over our hearts and minds to prepackaged ideologies, this strategy has by now back fired. The sense or signification carried out by the bosses of the media is that they will continue to control content in order to decide what is worthy of representation, and profits. But the use of the media during the recent Presidential election deconstructed those ideas thoroughly.

Human Rights, Executives and Profits

Television and the newsmagazines diverge, however, in their treatment of the middle class population, for the individuals who appear in the newsmagazines are more often of the upper-middle class, while those on television are frequently of the lower middle class. Most news is about affluent people, almost by definition, since the main actors in the news are public officials. Public officials are distinguished by their geographical, racial, ethnic and religious background more often than by their economic background. Generally speaking, then, the national news features middle-class and upper middle class blacks who have 'overcome' racial, economic and especially political obstacles, with the less affluent black more often newsworthy as protesters, criminals and victims. Racial news featuring whites reflects similar dichotomy, with public officials and upper middle class projected as citizens who seek to advance racial integration getting more coverage and less affluent whites, who demonstrate against it being not most newsworthy, but slightly covered nonetheless.

If one, then, were to use the same say of looking and knowing about how news become disseminated through TV and other news outlets, the very same pattern emerges. Those who want to improve and promote the well-being of all Americans are shown in a positive light, and those opposed to the general health and welfare of poor Americans, given newsworthiness because of the opposition and violence they engender. Because the news is dominated by stories about conflict(Racism, Health Care, Abortion, Gun Rights, Immigration, etc), and because of its concern with unity and consensus, or lack thereof, the overall picture is of a conflicted nation and society. But, is that a true picture in contemporary US?

Old news, New technologies

Many other such complexes exist, some of long standing. Often the subject of magazine cover stories and television documentaries, also serves as leads to more routine news stories, with actors, activities or statistics becoming newsworthy by virtue of their shedding some light on the condition of one or another complex. The networks have always been largely concerned about making money, but at an earlier time they felt obligated to operate first class news departments. Technical demands of television are complex and unrelenting that everyone concerned is preoccupied with getting matters right, and frequently, it is a case of techniques triumphing over substance. TV executives are very sensitive to public criticism, and their principal consideration in responding to public criticism is profit and loss. The news director who manages to arrange public matters so that public criticism is kept to a minimum, and profits remain high, rarely get fired. News and pseudo news shows, fixates peoples attention on what is peripheral to an understanding of their lives, and may even disable them from distinguishing what is relevant from what is not.

The viewer must come with a prepared mind that has information, opinions, and a sense of proportion and articulate value system. The TV viewer or news listener lacking such mental preparedness, to them, a news program is only a kind of rousing light show. Here a falling building, there a fire-alarm fire, everywhere the world becomes an object, without meaning, connections or continuity. News gathering and dissemination has not changed very much. The motive still remains manipulation, selection, signification, representation, ideology and profit. This maxim remains true of all old, new and emerging media, that with techniques and converging technologies, the media is not the message, but profits and control of men's attitudes and behaviors is the norm.

Approximately 99 percent of Americans own televisions, 70 percent of whom subscribe to cable; 100 percent own radios; an 77 percent subscribe to newspaper. Inmost homes, the television set is on at least seven hours per day, though studies find children watch about eight hours a ay. Americans listen to the radio 2.5 hours a day and spend 45 minutes reading their daily newspaper. In addition, American receive most of their news from television and often believe what they see and hear on the news.(Douglas Kelner) African Americans watch and listen to more broadcast media than these averages. for example, African Americans spend more than 70 hours a week watching television - 20-35 percent more than whites(reston, 1994)

The power of the media is profound. It sets agendas, interprets meaning, confers status, and in its worst case, endorses destructive behavior. It's most powerful impact is on children, who frame definitions of and draw conclusions about the world through the messages they receive. Studies conducted in the 1990s show that children across all races associate positive characteristics with the minority characters. Although children believe that all races are shown doing both good and bad things on the news, they agree that the news media tend to portray both African American and Latino people more negatively than White or Asian individuals. African American children feel that entertainment media represent their race more fairly than the news media (47 percent to 25 percent). Asian children feel the opposite, favoring the news media (36 percent to 28 percent), while White and Latino children are split between the two. All ages and races expressed faith that the media could help bring people together by showing individuals of varying races interacting together.(Children Now, 1998))

Yet, as a capitalist enterprise, the main purpose of the Eurocentric media - media created by and reflecting the worldview of people of European descent - is to create and maintain consumers of all age. And the Eurocentric media is experiencing steady growth and rapid consolidation. The top media corporation that have "dominant" power over American culture have shrunk to only ten.(Ben Bagdikian) Although one of the, AOL Time Warner, is now headed by Richard Parsons, a Black man, the top echelon is almost completely White. Not surprisingly, the product - whether packaged in magazines of television shows - is orientated toward a white audience. Meanwhile, the Afrocentric media - media created by and reflecting the worldview of people of African descent - is generally struggling to keep afloat.

News Media Are Targeted But Audiences Are Not

A Contemporary View On Multiperspective Journalism

As I have stated above, the power of the media is profound. It sets agendas, interprets meaning, confers status, and in its worst case, endorses destructive behavior. We learn from Herbert Gans that "In the past and in my writings I have urged that the news become more mutiperspective , that national news depend less on tope down news, form high level government and other official authoritative sources. Instead, new media should do more than reporting from and about other levels and sectors of society and how these see and interpret the country and its problems. The mainstream news media as well as the economy and polity in which the news media are embedded have changed over the past decades and the arrival of the Internet offers a chance to add different kinds of news. These changes justify a revisit the multiperspectival news which focuses particularly on the journalists' role in representative democracy.

Gans was asked in an interview that since he wrote his book "Deciding What's News" in 1979, what would he change and what would he leave intact - from the original? Gans replied:

"I wish someone would do such a study, because both [network TV news and newsmagazines] now have smaller audiences and smaller budgets, but the network evening news has barely changed in format or content in the last 40 years, while the newsmagazines are changing drastically. I would want to do such a study how they decide how and what to change - and what to keep - and what direct and indirect roles news organizations' budgets and news audiences play in these changes and in the shape of national news generally."

And Gans goes on to define how in 1979 he defined "Multiperspectival news" and explains why he still thinks it is still a relevant need, and why it is still relevant today given the challenges facing legacy news outslets: Gans elaborates: "When I did my original research, national news was limited mostly to what I might now call 'monoperspectival news', sometimes also called 'stenographic news'. I oversimplify somewhat here,but national news was dominated by journalists reporting what authoritative sources, especially top government officials, told them - or, when these disagreed, what "both sides" (usually Republican and Democratic) were claiming."

Gans adds: "Multiperspectal news reporting is more diverse. It seeks news about other subjects that are newsworthy for the variety of audiences in the total news audience; it obtains news from many other sources, including ordinary citizens, and it reports a variety of political, ideological, and social viewpoints (or perspectives. Here's my favorite example. Poor audiences need business news like everyone else, but not about investing in the stock market or the latest newsworthy act,legal or illegal, by corporate bigwigs. They need to know about businesses in which they can afford to shop and the ones that will hire them, as well as the charitable and public agencies that can help them when they are jobless and in need. Today, thanks to cable news and the Internet, the news is much more multiperspectival that it was in the past, but it reaches a far smaller audience than traditional legacy news."

Gans offers his perspective as to whether he thinks that newsrooms as they function today can shift to adapt to make these changes in their perspective. He response thusly": "When I published "Deciding What's News" in 1979, I suggested increasing the number and variety of news media. Today,cable, the Web and other technologies have made that happen, and we are at a stage in the innovation process in which further new journalistic formats and ideas are being tried out all the time. What can be monetized and what can be supplied free of charge remains to be seen, but if the needed monies and audiences are there, the journalists and the newsrooms will come to stay."

Gans has argued that journalists are stuck in the box of their own world views,which often reflected their own social status and the ensuing beliefs about their own social status and the ensuing beliefs about nation and society, and gives an idea as to how we can get around that. "I find the idea of journalists as representatives intriguing, in part because the U.S. is an upscale democracy, the politics of which is dominated by corporate campaign funders and the upper-middle-income population that votes and participates more actively than the rest. As a result, U.S. politics does a poor job of representing the remainder of the citizenry, especially those earning below the median income and various numerical minorities."

Gans further adds that: "Journalists are not elected officials and they cannot be political representatives or advocates but they can be represent people in a variety of other ways, for example by turning their experiences and problems into news, and by asking politicians and other authoritative sources questions to which unrepresented and poorly represented citizens need answers. Journalists can also pay more attention to (now) poorly represented political and other ideas. I think J-schools and news organizations can either recruit journalists who can get journalists unstuck from their own boxes or teach them to do so. Moreover, multiperspectival news - and representative journalism - would require a greater diversity of journalists, especially those coming from and familiar with the lives of poorly represented citizens and ideas."

This is what Gans has to say about who he sees as today's journalist, since the 'type' of journalists existing then when he wrote his book in 1979, has changed today in the 21st century technological media environment. Gans elaborates as follows: "I don't think professional journalists have changed at all that much since the book came out, other than that they are more educated and professionally better trained. Newsrooms have changed, as have all other workplaces, but I don't see a big difference in today's news judgements. Even the inverted pyramid has not yet been torn down."

Gans foes on to point out that : "True, there are amateurs who supple photos, videos, and even news stories to supplement what is gathered by professional journalists - but the latter still provide most of of the actually-consumed news. It's just that much of the news and opinion we once told each other face-to-face and in small groups is now visible to so many other people in the Web's so called Social Media. However, even if it is visible, does not necessarily mean that it is seen. One must always remember that ordinary people do not pay the same kind of attention to news as do journalists and media researchers, whether it is Facebook's personal news or the TV networks' professional news."

It is also important to take note When Gans speaks about citizen news, which he sees as helping be more educated politically, and he tries to point out as to where do such changes as the citizen journalism movement and hyperlocal news fit into tis vision of citizen News. Gans informs us in this manner: "Journalists need to pay more more attention to what citizens are doing, politically, and what their elected representatives do and don't do for them. conversely, elected representatives should know more about their constituents, especially the silent ones. Reporting more such news would incorporate the citizenry a little more into the political process, and would also offer citizens seeking to be more active examples of citizen activity. Since such news will probably always be of lower priority to professional journalists, help from the citizen journalism movement and supporters of local news would be desirable."

Gans proceeds to explain a little bit about the relationship between the general news audience and this targeted audience, and if whether there is enough overlap to create a common conversation.: "News media are targeted but the audiences are ot. there are mews media which seek to communicate with a particular audience, which may be targeted by gender, education, race, etc (we have discussed the race factor of the news gathering and media projections above, before we delved into Gans's take on multiperspectival perspective); and, there are other news media - most, in fact - which try to attract everyone. However, audiences head for where they want to go, and may people turn to both general and targeted media. But I wouldn't imagine much overlap or a common converstation. I am not even sure that many people converse very often about what's in the news media, other than journalists and media researchers."

In contemporary technological times, media, information, reporting has taken on a new tack, and we shall be elaborating further on this aspect of looking at other alternative takes on who and what decides news and who are the audiences and what the effects and affects are to the users. Below we look into this new phenomena of sharing and dissemination of information.

We will defer at this stage to Ian Crouch who wrote the following article:

How Viral Culture Is Changing How We Learn, Share, Create and Interact:

[New Ways Of an Emerging Reporting/Reportage and Viral Journalism]

"Bill Wasik’s "And Then There's This: How Stories Live And Die in Viral Culture" deceptively slim book is packed with anecdotes, theories, and arguments about contemporary media culture. It’s part memoir from Wasik, the merry prankster who created the 'flash mob craze' in 2003. And it’s part cultural inquiry, complete with clever social experiments and searing commentary.

While Wasik admits he is often tempted “to lionize viral culture as a people-powered paradise,” he thoroughly and persuasively argues that most of what we see, read, and discuss with one another is disposable by design, and ultimately corrosive. Let’s consider some of Wasik’s larger arguments.

The nanostory

Does the name Blair Hornstine ring a bell? Probably not, though that’s fine with Wasik. He suspects that if you remember anything about her, it will be her brief notoriety as the “girl who sued to become valedictorian” of her graduating class in 2003. She had been forced to share the top spot with a classmate due to a technicality, and rather than graciously share the honor, she decided instead to take her case to federal court, where the judge awarded her sole rights to the position and a hefty chunk of cash in punitive damages. Hornstine’s tale might have ended there, had the local paper she often wrote for not discovered that many of her stories contained extensive cases of plagiarism. Harvard rescinded her acceptance and talking heads rushed to label her emblematic of all that was wrong with America’s success-obsessed youth.

Wasik uses this unsavory story to introduce a new term, the nanostory — the “media pileons that surge and die off within a matter of months, days, even hours.” Once Hornstine became a big story — in major American newspapers and across cable and the Internet — she ceased to be a person, or even a name. She instead became a titillating and easily digestible modern fable, modern not only in its meaning but in its arc. All stories have a fixed lifespan, but the nanostory is so named both for its brief, bright existence and its false aura of social importance:

We allow ourselves to believe that a narrative is larger than itself, that it holds some portent for the long-term future; but soon enough we come to our senses, and the story, which cannot bear the weight of what we have heaped upon it, dies almost as suddenly as it emerged.

These stories get huge initial buzz, but then suffer from nearly simultaneous backlash — as if fame and backlash are not only inseparable but adjacent on a timeline. The stories and people involved are, writes Wasik, “gobbled up into the mechanical maw of the national conversation, masticated thoroughly, and spat out.” Susan Boyle was a nanostory. So was Miss California. You’ll find a couple new ones on most news aggregators every day.

These are silly news stories that break big. But Wasik also argues that many nanostories are generated and promoted by the subjects themselves. Take Amber Lee Ettinger, last fall’s Obama Girl, whose parlayed her role in the YouTube hit “Crush On Obama” into political commentator appearances on CNN and elsewhere. She recently 'tossed out the first pitch"at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Obama night.

Viral culture and the media mind

But you might argue that these bits of triviality have always been around. We’ve been distracting ourselves with gossip, nonsense, and superficial oddities for ages. What makes the nanostory different?

Wasik says the nanostory thrives today because we live in a viral culture. That culture labels ideas and stories as culturally significant almost instantaneously; it rewards shamelessness and confers attention for the briefest of moments. But Wasik admits that these same factors have been in place throughout the television age. The difference, he writes, is the audience. Wasik argues that people now operate with a collective media mind: that we are all savvy marketers of ourselves and eager to reward such initiative in others.

Having been sold culture for so many years, in so many sophisticated ways, consumers have now been handed the tools to sell themselves and they are doing so with great gusto.

Central to that self-marketing is access to data. Just as corporate marketers measure success and make predictions based on sophisticated analysis, so do individuals who put themselves out there online. Wasik argues that the ubiquity of user behavior data on sites such as Tecnocrati and Alexa give individuals tools that once cost corporations millions. Not only can we monitor the performance of a blog post or uploaded video, but we can use data to predict what new content might make a poster famous.

And Wasik argues that fame seems more attainable than ever. Anyone posting on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook is making a considered presentation of themselves to the world at large. They are acting out a role in the public sphere. And that act, Wasik argues, “changes what you say, how you act, how you see yourself.” Wasik never says it explicitly, but when he writes about the “hoardes of supposed naifs out there writing their blogs,” he is primarily talking about a certain demographic: the always-coveted 18-25s and 26-35s. In Wasik’s viral culture, these demographics are no longer just consumers of media and advertising; they’ve seized the means of cultural production as well. While it might be a democratic triumph to have the power to create media wrested away from a select group of culture makers, the new products created by that democracy leave Wasik dismayed.

The flash mob

Wasik knows firsthand about the allure of new media fame. He caused a stir in 2006 when he outed himself in Harper’s as the until-then anonymous architect of flash mobs, a social spectacle that hit New York in 2003 and spread around the globe — even seeping into the world of corporate advertising. Born out of what Wasik describes as a sort of existential boredom, the flash mob was a supposedly spontaneous assembly of people in a public place — a Claire’s accessory shop, the lobby of a Grand Hyatt — orchestrated beforehand by a series of email instructions. Wasik’s descriptions of these new media capers make for great reading — flash mob attendees wander through the rug department of Macy’s looking for the perfect “love rug,” or form a line blocks long ending at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, waiting for Strokes tickets that will never turn up. While another writer may have smugly observed the nonsense he had created, the strength of these tales comes from Wasik’s obvious bewilderment and dismay. How had he done this?

Again, Wasik argues that the prominence of his nanostory emerged from the Internet’s unique role as an archive of data and content. While television swamped us with stories, we had few ways to measure who cared about what. Now, as social networks and traffic monitors reveal popularity on a nearly minute-to-minute scale, we are more susceptible than ever to herd behavior or the bandwagon effect. Wasik recalls watching with a mix of delight and horror as he transformed into the shrouded cult-figure “Bill,” venerated by the hoards newly at his disposal. The crowds grew as e-mails were forwarded on and on, and soon the conventional media began to take notice. Wasik did interviews with hundreds of media outlets, themselves eager to be seen reporting on the cutting-edge of culture.

Wasik was interviewed by scores of media outlets from around the world, but he singles out reporter Amy Harmon of The New York Times as particularly emblematic of the way that members of the traditional media approached the story. Harmon contacted Wasik (still anonymous at that point) by phone long after many other outlets had covered the story. Harmon said she knew the Times was late to the story but planned to devote prominent space in the "Week In Review section identifying flash mobbing as a fascinating current trend. Instead,Harmon's piece focused on growing backlash against the mobs on the web. But Wasik writes that the backlash hadn’t even happened yet — the Times was simply pushing this nanostory along to the next logical stop on its path to irrelevancy. The evidence marshaled by Harmon, Wasik writes, “hardly constituted a ‘backlash’ against this still-growing, intercontinental fad, but what I think Harmon and the Times rightly understood was that a backlash was the only avenue by which they could advance the story, i.e., find a new narrative.”

Wasik never makes clear whether he feels the Times story led to the backlash that followed, but eventually it did come, and the mobs were soon over. He notes that they could ultimately unsustainable, since they were the very definition of a nanostory: they didn’t mean anything, and soon people came to realize it.

But mobs live on. Wasik describes the surreal experience of attending a “flash mob” for the Ford Fusion at City Hall Plaza in Boston, orchestrated entirely by a marketing company. The event is a bust; it feels staged and obviously commercial. People walk by, disregarding the scene as the marketing stunt it clearly was. Like traditional media, which seemed both eager and clumsy while covering the story, corporate America had fallen for the gag but somehow missed the point.

Following his unnerving success with flash mobs, Wasik set out to perform a series of similar experiments in the new media world. Fascinated by the star-making power of the music-review site Pitchfork on the indie scene, Wasik attempts to destroy the Swedish band Peter Bjorn and Hohn as they threaten to emerge at the 2007 SXSW festival. He starts the blog Stop Peter Bjorn and John and arranges a mock-protest. Within a week EW.com and Mother Jones, among others reported on growing backlash against the group. Soon this innocuous pop group had earned the label “controversial” on the San Francisco Chronicle's culture blog. But not all his experiments build buzz: his oppodepot.com, which attempted to aggregate dirt on all the 2008 Presidential candidates, attracted little traffic — because the site failed to take a partisan angle, Wasik says.

So what? Conclusions and ideas looking forward

What conclusions could one draw from reading Wasik describe — and experiment with — these new cultural products? Here are a few:

The Internet is a false cure for boredom. Wasik says he began the flash mob project out of a sort of existential boredom; he admits he is often bored. The web, with its instant access to information and entertainment, is the ultimate place to “do something” without doing much at all, Wasik argues. He writes that the web has not eliminated our boredom, just distracted us from it.

Viral culture rewards narrow thinking. Each of Wasik’s social experiments was founded on a clearly defined meme, a narrow and finely executed idea. We see that blogs that tend to gain notoriety (or book deals) do "one thing really well", while blogs with wide focus often fall by the wayside. But serious writing or good political commentary thrive on complexity, exactly what viral culture rejects as too complicated.

Culture is infected with a virus. He writes that a meme or nanostory is like an “independent agent loosed into the world, where it travels from mind to mind, burrowing into each, colonizing all as widely and ruthlessly as it can.” Wasik argues that these trivial items are choking us, blinding us, and making us both stupid and crazy.

Everything is a meme. Though Wasik lumps both news items and self-promoted projects under the same “nanostory” or “meme” headings, it seems that these two categories are fundamentally different. He devotes too little energy to sorting out who continues to control and disseminate information, and grants too much power to individuals and too little to still powerful media conglomerates and corporations.

Crowds are not as wise as they seem. Wasik suggests that culture has devolved into a popularity contest, with news outlets mistaking clickthroughs, pageviews, and most-emailed lists for reliable indicators of quality and worth. He cites a Columbia Study that found people tasked with downloading and evaluating music relied largely on the popularity of the songs among other respondents.

Nanostories are killing us. In the book’s final section, Wasik offers this rousing plea: “We want reason in our politics, greatness in our art, and we see that these are incompatible with our feckless, churning conversation. We must learn how to neuter our nanostories, or at least cut off their food supply.” Viral culture, he seems to argue, is at perhaps permanent odds with seriousness and quality.

We might be doomed. While there’s much to agree with in Wasik’s arguments, he offers us few specifics on how to “neuter” these viral stories. He mentions Jake Silverstein’s idea of an Internet Ramadan, during which participants go offline for a month, or Intel’s flirtation with offline “quiet time” one morning a week. Rather than offer specifics, Wasik focuses on individual choices, the familiar idea of unplugging ourselves from the constant flow of information — or, more elegantly, that “we must become judicious controllers of our own contexts, making careful and self-reflective choices about what we read, watch, consume.”

Wasik asks hard questions to which there are no simple answers. But if we are experiencing a moment of cultural catastrophe, shouldn’t the remedies extend beyond such relatively simple, personal decisions? After all, we can only consume what the culture makes available. A constructive question going forward, it seems, might be: rather than simply cut ourselves off, can we use the apparatus of digital media to produce and enjoy quality content?"

What Makes a Story Newsworthy?

Media College informs us in this way:

News can be defined as "Newsworthy information about recent events or happenings, especially as reported by news media". But what makes news newsworthy?

There is a list of five factors, detailed below, which are considered when deciding if a story is newsworthy. When an editor needs to decide whether to run with a particular story, s/he will ask how well the story meets each of these criteria. Normally, a story should perform well in at least two areas.

Naturally, competition plays a part. If there are a lot of newsworthy stories on a particular day then some stories will be dropped. Although some stories can be delayed until a new slot becomes available, time-sensitive news will often be dropped permanently.

1. Timing

The word news means exactly that - things which are new. Topics which are current are good news. Consumers are used to receiving the latest updates, and there is so much news about that old news is quickly discarded.

A story with only average interest needs to be told quickly if it is to be told at all. If it happened today, it's news. If the same thing happened last week, it's no longer interesting.

2. Significance

The number of people affected by the story is important. A plane crash in which hundreds of people died is more significant than a crash killing a dozen.

3. Proximity

Stories which happen near to us have more significance. The closer the story to home, the more newsworthy it is. For someone living in France, a major plane crash in the USA has a similar news value to a small plane crash near Paris.

Note that proximity doesn't have to mean geographical distance. Stories from countries with which we have a particular bond or similarity have the same effect. For example, Australians would be expected to relate more to a story from a distant Western nation than a story from a much closer Asian country.

4. Prominence

Famous people get more coverage just because they are famous. If you break your arm it won't make the news, but if the Queen of England breaks her arm it's big news.

5. Human Interest

Human interest stories are a bit of a special case. They often disregard the main rules of newsworthiness; for example, they don't date as quickly, they need not affect a large number of people, and it may not matter where in the world the story takes place.

Human interest stories appeal to emotion. They aim to evoke responses such as amusement or sadness. Television news programs often place a humorous or quirky story at the end of the show to finish on a feel-good note. Newspapers often have a dedicated area for offbeat or interesting items.

Internet on the Puppet Strings of government and Big Business

Internet on the Puppet Strings of government and Big Business

Enigma Codebreakers Spawned Modern-day Computers, In 1936..

Joe Miller Wrote:

Joan Clarke's ingenious work as a codebreaker during WW2 saved countless lives, and her talents were formidable enough to command the respect of some of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, despite the sexism of the time.

But while Bletchley Park hero Alan Turing - who was punished by a post-war society where homosexuality was illegal and died at 41 - has been treated more kindly by history, the same cannot yet be said for Clarke.

The only woman to work in the nerve centee of the quest to crack German Enigma ciphers, Clarke rose to deputy head of Hut 8, and would be its longest-serving member.

She was also Turing's lifelong friend and confidante and, briefly, his fiancée.

Her story has been immortalized by Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, out in UK cinemas this week.

Clerical work

In 1939, Clarke was recruited into the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) by one of her supervisors at Cambridge, where she gained a double first in mathematics, although she was prevented from receiving a full degree, which women were denied until 1948.

As was typical for girls at Bletchley, (and they were universally referred to as girls, not women) Clarke was initially assigned clerical work, and paid just £2 a week - significantly less than her male counterparts.

Within a few days, however, her abilities shone through, and an extra table was installed for her in the small room within Hut 8 occupied by Turing and a couple of others.

In order to be paid for her promotion, Clarke needed to be classed as a linguist, as Civil Service bureaucracy had no protocols in place for a senior female cryptanalyst. She would later take great pleasure in filling in forms with the line: "grade: linguist, languages: none".

Lifesaving work

The navy ciphers decoded by Clarke and her colleagues were much harder to break than other German messages, and largely related to U-boats that were hunting down Allied ships carrying troops and supplies from the US to Europe.

Her task was to break these ciphers in real time, one of the most high-pressure jobs at Bletchley, according to Michael Smith, author of several books on the Enigma project.

The messages Clarke decoded would result in some military action being taken almost immediately, Mr Smith explains.

U-boats would then either be sunk or circumnavigated, saving thousands of lives.

Turing 'kissed me'

During this time, Clarke and Turing became ever closer, co-ordinating their days off in order to spend more time together. In 1941, he proposed, although the engagement was ultimately short-lived.

"We did do some things together, perhaps went to the cinema and so on, but certainly, it was a surprise to me when he said... 'Would you consider marrying me?'," Clarke recounted in an interview for a BBC Horizon documentary, aired in 1992.

"But although it was a surprise, I really didn't hesitate in saying yes, and then he knelt by my chair and kissed me, though we didn't have very much physical contact.

"Now next day, I suppose we went for a bit of a walk together, after lunch. He told me that he had this homosexual tendency.

"Naturally, that worried me a bit, because I did know that was something which was almost certainly permanent, but we carried on."

However, just a few months later, Turing broke off the engagement, believing that the marriage would ultimately fail

Nonetheless, Clarke and Turing remained close friends until his death in 1954.

Graham Moore, who wrote the screenplay for The Imitation Game, says he saw similarities between the two cryptanalysts, and he believes this brought them together.

"They were both such outsiders, and that gave them some common ground," he explains.

"They were able to see things in a different way to others."

Indeed, they shared each other's passions, such as chess, puzzles, botany and even, on one occasion, knitting.

Forgotten by history

Because of the secrecy that still surrounds events at Bletchley Park, the full extent of Clarke's achievements remains unknown.

Although she was appointed MBE in 1947 for her work during WW2, Clarke, who died in 1996, never sought the spotlight, and rarely contributed to accounts of the Enigma project.

But the esteem in which she was held by her colleagues, and the fact that "her equality with the men was never in question, even in those unenlightened days", as Michael Smith writes, are a tribute to her remarkable abilities.

Morten Tyldum, the director of The Imitation Game emphasises that Clarke succeeded as a female in cryptanalysis at a time "when intelligence wasn't really appreciated in women".

There were a handful of other female codebreakers at Bletchley, notably Margaret Rock, Mavis Lever and Ruth Briggs, but as Kerry Howard - one of the few people to research their roles in GCCS - explains, their contributions are hardly noted anywhere.

"Up until now the main focus has been on the male professors who dominated the top level at Bletchley," she says. In order to find any information on the women involved, you have "to dig much deeper".

"There are a lot of people in this story who should have their place in history," says Keira Knightley.

"Joan is certainly one of them"

Global Internet Traffic

Global Internet Traffic

People have a variety of motivations for receiving news online. surveys show that the single largest reason for getting news online is convenience. this has no always been the case. In 1996, the 53 percent of Americans who cited the inability to get all they want from "traditional news sources" was greater than the 45 percent who cited convenience as a reason for going online for election news. By 2000, convenience had not just passed the inadequacy of traditional news sources as a reason for getting online news, but overwhelmed it by 56 to w9 percent.

Another reason is that the dimension of online consumption did not represent a typical social and demographic section of America. The receipt of online news varies with socioeconomic factors. Both use the Internet and consumption of news generally increase with education. It is, therefore, not surprising that those receiving news online are generally better educated than the average American.

Internet news-reading has also eliminated newspaper-reading by the youth. The Internet is one medium where young people get their news than the elderly.

There is a huge gulf between the established media and citizen perceptions of online news. The gulf persisted even after the Internet had become a majority medium. This is clear from a survey comparing comparing media personnel with the online news public. While 77 percent of media elites said that the public was less comfortable with the reliability of online news, only 28 percent of the online public said it was. While 27 percent of the online public agrees that "there is too much news on the Internet to sort through and make sense of it all," over half of media elites said that "there is too much news on the Internet for the Public to sort through and make sense of it all."

In sum, citizens feel empowered while media elites are somewhat threatened by the political journalism on the Internet. It seems likely that people of the world will be comforted by the Internet's influence on political juranlism. thomas Jefferson put it this way: "Our citizens may be deceived for a while, and have been deceived, but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust them for light.". In our present-day life this life can be found coming from a glowing monitor, but at the same time, with the public choosing as to what is news.

Converging and Submerging Media

Media convergence have become a vital element of life for many people. With the development of technology in  different  platforms and operations such as television, Internet and mobile communication, audiences have had both a bigger choice of media

Media convergence have become a vital element of life for many people. With the development of technology in different platforms and operations such as television, Internet and mobile communication, audiences have had both a bigger choice of media

Convergence Of Old Traditional Media In the Web

The viewer and consumer of news is the one who decides what's news and what is not newsworthy. This point is made clearer by Seib who notes:

"the technology has progressed to the point that it allows the viewer to see more of the process of gathering news. ... People are seeing news news as it develops. And I'm not sure that's bad. It kind of hits at some of the criticism of the media for slanting the news. You can't say it was slanted when its live.

"When a major story greaks, partnerships usually give way to battling for unique story angles. The resulting news product, however, should not be regarded as merely a trophy by the competing journalists. Most important is the effect on the audience-how people use the information they receive.

"... One reason for the emphasis on speed was competition from the Internet. Rather than leave the public to its own devices and let the people get the news on their own in this way, television news executives decided to try to match the Internet's speed as information provider. The problem with this approach is that merely delivering raw information is not journalism.

"The distinction could be seen in newspapers' coverage of many important reports like the Starr Report. Many presented lengthy excerpts and a few, such as the New York Times, printed the entire coument. But their news stories were carefully considered and structured: emphasis was placed on what was judged most important, caveats were offered about the unproven nature of allegations, and limits were placed on how much of the sexually graphic material was included.

The Starr's release was a turning point for the Internet in ts relationship with other information media. For many people, the Web was no longer merely an ocean on which to surf for the news, but had become a primary source. According to Eb traffic tracker RelevantKnowledge, approximately 24.7 million people saw the Starr report during the first two days it was online. That exceeds the circulation of America's fifty largest daily newspapers.

"Another step forward with the Starr report was improved screen format. Software companies are making material easier to read by combining text with a table of contents and scrolling footnotes at the bottom of the screen. The great duel between the computer screen and the printed page centers on 'convenience'(As duly noted above), for the information consumer.

"For the Internet site designer. the goal is to minimize the amount of clicking and other maneuvering required to read a document. Graphics should always be helpful and notdistracting. the trial-and-error approach is quickly moving toward making the Internet a much more reader-friendly medium."

In my reckoning, I think the Internet is is more than -reader/viewer friendly, if one were to mull a bit on this point. The software that is being constantly updated in one's computer from unknown sources, and the fact that Cable TV. like Time Warners channels and system of delivery, is constantly being updated, is one of the many technological developments when gizmos and information are wrapped with a technique that explains both their function and, effect and effect on the viewer.

Another way of looking at is is understanding what options and choices of convenience are being presented to the news/information consumingInternet polity, there are some choices for the viewer/reader, and there are designed and structured rules and operation dictated by the gizmos and the Internet and information storage, accumulation and disbursement and their techniques.

We known from Seib, that "radio and television" were not limited to reporting what had already happened. As years passed, increasingly sophisticated technology made this kind of reporting easier and more common. Going 'live' became the trademark for broadcast and the cable news.

"Cable and satellite carriers have fostered a proliferation of television offerings, and the pace of daily life-inculding the interminable "drive time"-has reinforced radio's popularity. but the journalistic standards have not always kept up with technological advances. As the continuum of electronic news stretches into the future, significant doubts exist about the quality of the news product.

"Now that is changing. Even print news organizations are delivering their product electronically as well as on paper. The World Wide Web is the next major news medium. On the Web, newspapers and magazines can go and live. Bu doing so, they give up time that was a friend to judgement. They also find that part of their traditional cultured has become obsolete. The system of the print newsroom was built upon a regular publishing schedule.

"for journalists crafting stories, the news cycle-daily for newspapers, longer for magazines-was as reliable as a metronome. No more. Morning newspapers such as the Washington Post are producing online editions at other times in the day and delivering updated reports at a moment's notice. The public has little tolerance for any sluggishness in regard to Web news.

"Television and radio are also adapting to the realities of the Internet, creating their own Web sites as the online audience grows. For electronic news organizations, the Web allows expansion of real-time offering. Networks and stations use their Web sites to offer "Netcasts"-initially supplements to regular news programming (such as expanded reporting of election night vote tallies), with unique content soon to follow. The sites also feature new and archived video and audio demand.

Despite the nearly infinite capacity of the Internet, the Online World is already getting crowded. The Web world of news is cluttered with sites that are delivering similar products. Only the most resolute Web junkies will partake of all this, and the new medium's economics are proving harsh for those whose sites do not have well-known brand name or other appealing features. Many offerings will disappear as other merge with former competitors. On the Web, the products of the New York Times and ABC News will be very much alike in the mix of text, audio and video. The logical step is the joint enterprise. This is "COnvergence-nes organizations from different media coming together in the new medium. the Viral Streaming Media Ecology has offered and tipped the balance of traditional news, and is presenting with news ways of Media and a new environment of surfing the informational Web.

Teaching Mass Media Commmunication andMass Communication

Will Online News Kill Print?

Seniors Do not Think Online News Will Kill Print. Today’s New York newsstand is packed with print—from the Times and Post to such as ethnic-media fare as El Dario, the Polish Nowy Dziennik, Jewish Press and all three Irish papers.

Seniors Do not Think Online News Will Kill Print. Today’s New York newsstand is packed with print—from the Times and Post to such as ethnic-media fare as El Dario, the Polish Nowy Dziennik, Jewish Press and all three Irish papers.

Analogue Journalism: Deciding News The Old Way

“How did Céline Dion’s backyard merit a front-page photo,” reader Michelle Guilmette asked this week. “Is there nothing else newsworthy out there?”

The day before, reader Bill Archibald emailed to inquire why the Star had devoted time and space to the story of Ludwig the cat who went missing at Pearson airport. Why, he asked, is a lost cat news?

In any given week, readers of the Star are apt to ask some variation of the essential questions at the heart of those emails: What is news? Who decides what the Star pays attention to — and what it ignores. What runs on Page 1 and on the home page of thestar.com?

Readers are quick to weigh in on what the Star covers as well as what it doesn’t cover.

I often hear from those of you who are disappointed that the Star did not cover an event in which you have a particular interest. For example, this week a reader wondered why he could not find news about the Princess Patricia's Regiment anniversary celebrations in the Star.

Another longtime reader, a 70-year-old man who told me he was sexually abused in his childhood, wrote an impassioned letter imploring the Star to provide more coverage of the serious questions raised in the final report (released last December) of Ontario’s public inquiry into sexual abuse allegations in Cornwall.

The Oxford Canadian Dictionary defines news as “information about important or interesting recent events.” There’s broad scope in that for judgment about what is “important” — information you need to know — and what is “interesting” — stuff you might want to know.

Deciding what’s news is the core work of the media. As the renowned journalist and media critic Walter Lippman once said: “All the reporters in the world, working all the hours of the day, could not witness all the happenings in the world.”

Journalism is, by necessity, the art of selection, of deciding what matters and how to present that to audiences. While the Internet and the emergence of “citizen journalism” and social media have made it easier to connect and communicate within our global village, leading some to argue that journalism’s role as a “gatekeeper” is not necessary, there’s a case to be made that the barrage of accessible information makes the editor’s job of selection more vital.

The Star’s senior editors strive to provide a mix of what they believe readers need to know and what you might want to know. Clearly, on any given day, their news judgment won’t be in accord with that of all readers — or even all Star journalists. “Why is that news?” is a sentiment as apt to be expressed in the newsroom as in the public editor’s email box.

Indeed, such was the case with Thursday’s Page 1 play of Céline Dion’s $20 million new estate. For my part, I’m with reader Keung Lui who wrote: “I am happy for Céline and her 8-year-old son that they could afford a $20 million play house. But is this so-called news worth the front page of theToronto Star? Don’t you have some real and more important news to report?”

How do journalists decide what is news? Is news simply determined by an editor’s whim, as expressed by the oft-cited cliché of the powerful editor who declares, “News is what I say it is.”

Textbook definitions of news that aim to teach aspiring journalists how to develop “news judgment” are of little practical use in the daily, and increasingly online, hourly, fray of deciding what’s news. For example, few editors ever consciously consider what one text tells us: “News is information about a break from the normal flow of events, an interruption in the unexpected” (practical translation: Dog bites man: not news. Man bites dog: news).

Stanley Walker, the famous editor of the now-defunct New York HeraldTribune defined news as the three W’s — “women, wampum and wrongdoing” (practical translation: sex, money and crime). That’s sexist, to be sure. How far off is it, though? Consider how those universal elements figure in many important and interesting news stories.

Journalism textbooks define the factors of newsworthiness as the impact of information on citizens, whether conflict and controversy are involved, timeliness, the prominence of those involved and proximity to the audience.

Novelty and oddity also factor in. Many successful editors, striving to appeal to readers, have long defined news as that which makes a reader say, “Gee whiz!”

For most journalists, deciding what’s news is instinctive, rooted in experience and their perceptions of what readers want. Practical factors such as space, reporting resources, the mix of hard news and softer features, the number of events competing for attention, as well as the availability of compelling photos to illustrate the news, are also at play.

All these theories aside, there is one overriding consideration that helps explain the daily puzzle of what is news: What’s newsworthy on a “slow news day” is far different than what you’ll read when a natural disaster happens or a parliamentary scandal breaks.

It’s a safe bet that Céline Dion’s water-park would not have made such a splash on the day a tsunami struck or there was a tidal wave of earth-shaking news.

Internet News is Different from Newspaper News in many ways

Online ads can be particularly jarring while you're reading about tragedies such as the Newtown school shootings

Online ads can be particularly jarring while you're reading about tragedies such as the Newtown school shootings

Holding Out On News And Deciding What 's News: Seniors On News Selection

Bridget Cagney’s mother read to her every night when she was a small child. “Then when I learnt to read books and newspapers, and you had to learn quickly in those days, it was the greatest joy of my childhood,” said the Queens, N.Y., resident about growing up in Ireland’s County Cork. “And reading still is a great joy.”

Cagney buys the New York Times about every second day and all three of the Irish weeklies published in New York City. “And Jim gets the Post,” she said of her husband, who emigrated with her in 1967.

Most Seniors Online—But Fewer to Read News

The Cagneys don’t own or use a computer, which puts them in a minority among those 65 and older in the United States. Last year, the Pew Research Center for the Internet and American Life announced that for the first time a majority of seniors (53 percent) use e-mail or the Internet.

But a previous Pew survey revealed that most of the older set doesn’t get news from any online source. The study found that only four in 10 members of those 65-74 ever go online for news, and merely one in six members of the “Greatest Generation” (75 and over) do so.

Paul Finnegan, executive director of the New York Irish Center in Long Island City, which encourages seniors to acquire computer skills, said his observations coincide with the Pew Center’s findings.

In an informal survey he conducted in early May of those who attend the center’s Wednesday seniors’ lunch, 40 people said they preferred newspapers as a source of news, while five indicated TV or radio was best for them. Only four chose the Internet.

“That TV/radio figure is a surprise,” Finnegan said. He wasn’t surprised, though, that all four of those who voted for online news are enthusiastic stalwarts of the center’s Saturday morning computer class.

Center regular Julia Anastasio, who sometimes goes online, is one of those who favor print media. “I get the Daily News every day and the Irish Echo every week,” said the native of County Offaly, Ireland. “The Irish Independent[Ireland’s largest-circulation daily] opens up on my computer. I sometimes go to the computer class and I’m getting better. I know how to Google.”

Anastasio’s favorite website is that of the Offaly-based Midland Radio 103, where she can read death notices and local sports news, as well as listen to music.

Even more enthusiastic computer users interviewed for this article regard online sources as supplemental, not as a replacement for print media.

“I'm computer fluent,” said Neil Hickey, a journalist for more than 50 years. He subscribes, though, to the print editions of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and several periodicals.

“There are huge advantages to the digital revolution,” said Hickey, an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former editor-at-large for the Columbia Journalism Review. “I couldn't live without Google and e-mail. The whole world of information is at your fingertips.

“YouTube,” he added, “is a great joy and a phenomenal resource.”

But, Hickey said, “I tell students that, for me, at least, reading news online is unsatisfying and insufficient to my needs.”

Views of Three Former Teachers

Three former teachers interviewed expressed contrasting positions about the Internet. But all, like Hickey, said that for them print news is primary.

Patrick O’Sullivan, who spent his career teaching Spanish, commented, “You could spend hours at the computer.” The New Jersey resident, who has a second career as a realtor and follows the stock market as a hobby, continued, “But I go online for what I can’t read in the New York Timesand Barron’s.

O’Sullivan is unimpressed with the news he sees online. “Unlike the rich writing he finds in theTimes, he said,