Becoming Indispensable? 5th International Symposium on Online Journalism University of Texas, Austin Steve Klein, Coordinator of the Electronic Journalism Program George Mason University With Nam Thai, Instructional Research Center April 16-17, 2004
Becoming Indispensable? in•dis•pen•sa•blePronunciation: (in"di-spen'su-bul), adj.1. absolutely necessary, essential, or requisite: an indispensable medium?2. incapable of being disregarded or neglected: an indispensable … source of news?
Becoming Indispensable? When I walk around the George Mason University campus in Fairfax, Va., everybody has one of these. In fact, instructors have to state in our syllabi that cell phones must be turned off during class!
Becoming Indispensable? Another indispensable form of media almost every student brings to campus is a portable music player.
Becoming Indispensable? So … Has online news become indispensable? Despite my 1995 dreams, not quite yet. Not until it becomes truly ubiquitous. Not until it becomes so easy to access and use that it becomes transparent … a little like this scene from “Minority Report.”
Becoming Indispensable? So, when was the last time that a medium became clearly indispensable?
Becoming Indispensable? So, what news websites are students accessing?
Becoming Indispensable? Fred Durst or John Ashcroft? Paris Hilton or Hamad Karzai? Hillary Clinton or …
Becoming Indispensable? My more sophisticated students get some of their news from Dennis Miller on CNBC.
Becoming Indispensable? Most of them know what Jon Stewart laughed about last night on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.
Becoming Indispensable? Young people are the hardest to reach segment of the political news audience (according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press).
Becoming Indispensable? Today, 21 percent of young Americans under age 30 regularly learn about the presidential campaign and the candidates from comedy shows like “The Daily Show” or “Saturday Night Live” and comedians like David Letterman and Jay Leno – twice as many as could say this four years ago. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/ThisWeek/Politics/thelist040411.html
Becoming Indispensable? One out of every two young people say they sometimes learn about the campaign from comedy shows – twice the rate among Americans age 30-49 (27 percent) and four times the rate among people age 50 and older (12 percent).
Becoming Indispensable? For these young people, the content of the jokes, sketches and guest appearances on these programs is not a repeat of old information. Nearly half say that what they learn is something new – something they had not known previously.