BROADCASTER: On our panel is a porn star, a physics professor, a robotics engineer, a make-up artist, and...a print journalist?
NELSON: Ha ha! You’re medium is dying!
I don’t know if I listed the non-print journalist professions correctly, but what matters here is the idea that print is dying. And not just print; the CBC’s documentary The End, suggests even TV and radio might also be meeting their untimely demise – or timely; whatever way you look at it.
The truth is I would rather hold a book in my hands than read off a screen; then again, I don’t see the point of a computer without the internet. And I don’t listen to the radio. (When I worked in an office 2 summers ago, the same radio station was always on, and they played the same 10 songs 3 times a day every day. I’m not even exaggerating.)
What I think The End is getting at isn’t necessarily that radio, TV, and print are dying, but changing. The documentary called it an “evolution of choice.”
We don’t have to wait for our favourite shows or songs to come on, a decision made primarily by broadcasters and advertisers.
On that note, one of the most interesting things from the documentary is the idea of “conversation vs. consumption.”
Thanks to video on demand and TiVo, we can just fast-forward through commercials; with the internet, we can search for what we want, and make contributions to the content ourselves in however way we choose, which is usually honestly and without restraint.
I also want to mention something that was said aboutWikipedia - the idea that it’s “killing encyclopedias.” That, I’d have to disagree with because like radio, TV, and print, the same information will just move to another format.
Other complaints are that Wikipedia isn’t always accurate because anyone can add to it; that too I disagree with.
Wikipedia is a shared space. If someone makes something up and posts it, it'll get caught because everyone has access to it, making it more reliable in some ways.
Wikipedia’s contributors don’t have advertisers to please or government riding their butts to keep certain things out, like mainstream information-disseminating networks. It’s also free and easily-updated, whereas as the expensive traditional leather-bound versions are a little more difficult to add to.
Plus, finding what you want on Wikipedia is fast and can be done from anywhere with a cell phone – which apparently 815 million people bought last year. (As an added bonus, Wikipedia doesn't weigh a hundred pounds.)
The end of radio, TV, and print? Not likely. We’re more likely looking at the end of long attention spans. Hey, a bird!