A view to the news

Oct 6, 2006

I sat in on a journalism ethics class yesterday to hear NYU j-school prof and PressThink blogger Jay Rosen. He gave an interesting and eloquent talk about the changes in the newspaper-journalism industry, and the undergrad students responded with some excellent questions.

At one point, I found myself reminiscing to 1982, when I would sit with my mother at the dining room table (this was Caldwell, Idaho, with a gorgeous view to the mountains beyond Boise) and read USA Today with its page of short items from the 50 states—and the territories, since we’d recently moved up from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

That memory amazes me, mostly because I can trace my passion for news and reading to my mother, but also because the news roundup from the whole country was just one page. Today, of course, the Web gives us access to almost infinite news and views and images from around the world. And while some of the damn same stories are with us—seems most mornings my NPR-wake-up alarm recites strife between Israel and the Arabs and trouble elsewhere in the Middle East—I love the fact that I can quickly and easily find my way to corners of the country where I’ve lived and places in the world where I want to go.

And then I can write about what I’ve learned in my own online publication (aka The Coconut Wireless at mistersugar.com). Participatory journalism. That’s why Rosen was barnstorming through North Carolina this week; his nascent effort is NewAssignment.Net.

I thank Al Neuharth and my mom for setting me on the right path. Though don’t get me wrong: Neuharth’s nation-wide daily helped strangle good narrative reporting. But, again, that’s why we’ve now got the Web.

Anton Zuiker

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