The future of news
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The Future of News. Robert L. Stevenson. UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Communication Revolution No. 1. Invention of writing Results: Communication across time and space Infinite accumulation of knowledge Flexible, expanding cultures

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The Future of News

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The future of news

The Future of News

Robert L. Stevenson

UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Communication revolution no 1

Communication Revolution No. 1

  • Invention of writing

  • Results:

    • Communication across time and space

    • Infinite accumulation of knowledge

    • Flexible, expanding cultures

    • Challenged authority of tribal leaders and guardians of culture

Communication revolution no 2

Communication Revolution No. 2

  • Gutenberg’s invention of printing

  • Results:

    • Cheap, fast reproduction of information

    • News emerged quickly

    • Modern society became possible: languages, bureaucracy, democracy

    • Traditional authority challenged

Communication revolution no 3

Communication Revolution No. 3

  • Convergence of technologies:

    • Computers

    • Satellites

    • Digitization

  • Result is capacity to transmit unlimited quantities of information from any point on earth to any other point almost instantly



  • An end to national sovereignty?

  • Near impossibility of any kind of regulation? Or total regulation?

  • Information as new form of wealth and power

    • Information-rich and information-poor

    • Regulation of an information economy

An information driven world

An information-driven world

  • National control

    • Maintenance of legal standards

    • Taxation

    • Protection of intellectual property

  • A new form of Western (Anglo-American) global dominance?

The global news system

The global news system

  • A global network of computers, constantly updating time-sensitive data bases

  • Comprising…

    • A handful of Western information-based organizations operating globally

    • Second-tier national and regional agencies

    • A handful of elite national media

The global news system1

The global news system

  • Pumps massive quantities of information to local gatekeepers who allow a trickle into local media

  • Is dominated by Anglo-American organizations

  • Mixture of public and private

  • Follows Anglo-American style of content and format

The global news system2

The global news system

  • News capital is probably London, not New York

  • Information generated and distributed mostly in English

  • Surprisingly well connected to local and non-English media

The players

The players

  • Global wholesalers

  • Mixed suppliers

Global news diet and menu

Global news diet and menu

  • Global system pumps a flood of information into small local systems

  • Tiny trickle get into most national and local media

  • In many (most?) countries, international news is a rare (but not endangered) species

A typical snapshot of the world

A typical snapshot of the world

  • One or two universal blockbuster stories, often violent

  • One or two major events with national involvement or linkages

  • A small but steady dose of business, sports, entertainment

Influences on the world snapshot

Influences on the world snapshot

  • Global wholesalers and players set the agenda

  • Characteristics of the system: stationing of resources, economic, cultural ties

  • Gatekeeper news values (proximity, prominence, deviance, disruption)

  • U.S. as unique news superpower

Alternative definitions of news

Alternative definitions of news

  • News is a coherent (ideological?) interpretation of the world

  • News is a non-partisan summary of events and useful data with a separate forum for opinions

  • News is now something else:

The revolution in news

The revolution in news

  • News is data

  • News is components

  • News is live or on-demand

  • News is multi-media

  • News is personal

  • News is interactive

Re valuing information

Re-valuing information

  • Be traditional

  • Give away the news, sell the olds

  • Spread the costs

  • Give it away and sell ads

The downside of the future

The downside of the future

  • Commercial dominance

  • Rise of extremism

  • The digital divide

Journalism in the future

Journalism in the future

  • Summarize events

  • Assemble elements of a complex event

  • Separate the probably true from the obviously false

  • Monitor powerful institutions

  • Tell us what to think about

  • Login