Bob Woodward and Russ Mitchell

Tonight I attended the 40th anniversary of the Gateway Journalism Review (previously, the St. Louis Journalism Review). Russ Mitchell, the CBS Evening News anchor, acted as MC and posed audience questions to Bob Woodward, one of the two reporters to break the Watergate story. Anyways, Russ posed a question asking whether he (Bob Woodward) thought that young people were getting news nowadays considering that so many don’t read the newspaper.  Well, I had thought about this particular question the other day and came up with a few interesting thoughts, so I approached Russ Mitchell after the talk was over.  (I won’t get into Bob Woodward’s answer because honestly I can’t remember what he said. But, it did notably lack much of what I had come up with.)

So I told Russ Mitchell that I have a very hard time believing that a person growing up in the 60s or 70s would be able to know even close to what I or any other person would know now. I suggested that with the use of computers, we are able to learn about any topic in history, whereas when one grows up without a computer they have to go to the library, find a book, check it out, read it, go back and repeat the process until they have acquired the desired amount of knowledge.  And not only that, but there is another problem. How is one supposed to learn recent news? What if they missed the evening news or the paper for a particular day?  Furthermore, the news on the TV and paper cannot possibly publish every story, but websites can.  Websites can also fact-check easily.  Then comes the next innovation, blogs.  For example, where would we read about the latest news in evolution if for instance, a blog like http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/ does not exist? Yes, we could go check out books, but again we would not know the latest research.  This also applies to scientific journals.  They too are online and you can quickly browse through the articles and gain massive amounts of knowledge over a short period of time.

In this current era, newspapers are getting to be smaller and smaller as well as more notably corrupt. For example, the Wall Street Journal became much less credible after Murdoch took over.  So what do you have?  You have The New York Times and honestly, that is pretty much it.  You need the internet to know about financial news now.  How many papers or news shows talk about the ECB and how the Euro is helping take down Europe?  You can also post as many pictures and videos as you would like.

Overall, with the innovations during the past decade or two, it is much easier to develop massive amounts of knowledge on limitless topics.  It is easy for one to think of many more reasons why we are able to gain more knowledge at this point in time, but I think what I provided will suffice.

I do also understand that people might say, “Oh, but people now don’t care nearly as much about the news as they did in the 60s.”  Even if this was true (I don’t think it is, but I have not come across a study), I would think that those who are interested now and you combine their knowledge would have more knowledge than those combined in previous decades.  Also, it is noteworthy that while yes, you have people who are apathetic to this today, there were also people like that in previous years.

I told Russ Mitchell that I can watch any news program and there is never (lets say almost never) a story that I haven’t already read.  Besides of course the dog that can do a backflip and related “stories.”  I’ll even know the “stories” (lies) that Fox News tells their viewers and I’m sure many other Progressives would too.

Anyways, Russ Mitchell said that I raised a good point and he likes it.  Hopefully I gave him an interesting perspective from a “younger” audience; one that is probably underrepresented. (How often do you see a 20 year old on the national news being interviewed for their take on their peers reading the newspaper?)

Note: While I didn’t talk to Bob Woodward as he was on satellite, both him and Russ Mitchell seemed very nice.

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