Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How You Get Your News: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I get my news from a Facebook page called Manchvegas Alerts.  It's a nice little play by play of the police scanners, with commentary, sometimes videos of people fighting in the streets of the grim ghetto of the lovely city, in addition to your basic news stuff.  

Yes, I'm serious. It is freaking epic.
                                    Manchester, NH (affectionately referred to as "ManchVegas"

And yes, by the way, little old New Hampshire does in fact have a news channel, the milquetoast WMUR.  They are scooped by Manchvegas Alerts all the time.  It's really kind of awesome.

I'll get an alert from WMUR that I already read on Manchvegas Alerts, sometimes hours before.  

And the staff is extremely funny.

It got me thinking, though ... I used to teach Journalism, and I always started with the concept of communication.  How does one person convey a message to their audience?  Then we play charades for a bit, then we get into cave drawings, and things go upward from there up to the modern day newspaper.

My family got the local newspaper, Foster's Daily Democrat, delivered every day, and I read it cover to cover.  I didn't always understand it, but it certainly generated some conversation.  One day, when I found one of my neighbors on the DUI license revocation list, my parents talked about trying to keep me away from the newspaper.  

As Scout Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing."  

So I guess I should be grateful that my parents considered that, because, while they never followed through, I had learned the lesson that the news--the newspaper or the nightly news and probably even some books, although not the ones I read at the time--was accessible.  

I was also inexcusably nosy.  I still am.

And I still love to get my news.  In fact, I love it more now than ever.  I don't have to read an entire newspaper cover-to-cover, I can scan through headlines on sites of interest.  I do have the app for WMUR, to be fair, and I also read CNN, MSNBC, and Fox (because I actually try to be fair and balance) for national news.  I love People and TMZ because I have an obsession with celebrities.  

And that's just what's reaching out to me ...

If I decided I want to find my ex-husband on the aforementioned DUI license revocation list, for example, Google does it (and I can giggle with glee).  If I want to know about the new medical condition they think I have, I can go to PubMed.

For Pete's sake, Facebook suggests friends based on your friends and sites or pages based on your interest ... the whole Big Brother thing is pretty overwhelming.

I cannot fathom technology and accessing the news any simpler than on my iPhone.  The newspaper as an institution is long dead, and even news sites are losing steam because of pages like Manchvegas Alerts (seriously it's a laugh riot, but it's the news).

What do you think the future holds for journalism?