Monday, June 01, 2009

Before the Internet, I was a better journalist

You know, my farewell to social media has lifted such a burden from me that I am considering taking it a step further.

When I began my journalism career, I covered some pretty interesting, complicated stories -- from health effects of trash incinerators in neighborhoods, to controversies surrounding methadone clinics to cultural implications of bilingual education. I covered these issues and more back in the 1980s and early '90s -- before the Internet existed.

I got out more, I talked to more people, I made more phone calls, I read more books, I went to more libraries, and I think I was actually a better writer and reporter back then.

Since then, I have seen how the Internet echo chamber can take one wrong piece of information and, via that lazy reporting tool, Google, fling it around the world and back a hundred times until bad information becomes conventional wisdom.

I have seen how the availability of tiny fragments of half-information, mostly out of context, can turn lazy reporters into "instant experts" because all it takes to write a successful "news story" is the ability to package information well so that it makes sense within certain closed-loop assumptions.

I've seen how addictive personalities and egomaniacs can obtain instant gratification from "connections" with others hunched behind screens, yet still not know the first thing about real communication.

I have already rejected Web 2.0. I am almost ready to tell Web 1.0 to get lost, as well.

Maybe an hour a day to answer e-mail, read some news and look up a few things. Then, back to gaining knowledge the old-fashioned way -- by communicating in a real way with real people.

Just a nice thought for now. I might follow through.

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