Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Transformation of Journalism

By Travis Drobbin

“Journalism is not dying, it’s merely transforming.” That is the view of Nick Bilton, who spoke at Rutgers on February 2 in front of a crowd of two hundred. Bilton is a research and development specialist with the New York Times as well as the creator of Shifd.com. Bilton discussed a lot of the new technologies that will be introduced to the world in the coming months and years. Bilton noted how the narrative is constantly changing. From cave drawings, the alphabet, illuminated manuscripts, the printing press, and television to the internet. People are beginning to be scared by this change, because media is having a difficult time acclimating to the Internet. The New York Times, on the other hand, is trying to stay ahead of the curve by developing new technologies and implementing them as soon as possible, he said. Bilton went into detail about the Times experiment with something called the CustomTimes. The CustomTimes is a digital take on the traditional street newspaper boxes that take quarters, and in return a person is able to take a newspaper. The Times is now testing a new take on that; the CustomTimes looks like a newspaper box with a computer monitor on it. The consumer would be able to choose the sections that they would want to read, and the machine would print out a copy of their very own custom freshly printed New York Times.

Bilton also brought the crowd’s attention to the idea that consumers are the new editors, as editors to their friends and peers. People are now posting news articles on various social networks, which they believe are important to everyday life. Bilton said these people are being editors because they are choosing the content that people focus their attention on. This is a very important change in the world of newspapers, because people are now taking into their own hands what the people around them read.

Sensors are also on the forefront of news reporting, according to Bilton. Sensors are mechanical devices that are sensitive to light, temperature, radiation level, or the like, that transmits a signal to a measuring or control instrument. These sensors would allow easier and more accurate reporting for any reporter. The amount of time that could be saved using these sensors would be absolutely enormous. The sensors can deliver news instantaneously as it occurs. This is a huge breakthrough in the news world, because the quicker the news can be reported, the more successful the industry will be.

The most sobering information Bilton presented was the continuation of print media. Bilton, said he believes that there will always be a print version of the New York Times. The need for a credible news source will always be needed, and therefore the big news institutions will always be around.

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