Technology and News: A Necessary Combination?

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

We live in a very technologically advanced time. It seems there are always new phones being introduced to the public, new operating systems like iOS7, new apps with amazing features, and even new cars with incredible capabilities. Taking a step back, it is amazing to watch all these advancements unfold.

Many people believe technology is a good thing, a way to solve problems and make life easier. Others, however, disagree. Some say technology can cause more problems than it fixes, hurting society as a whole. While a controversial topic, the same idea applies to the media today and how it relates to news.

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

Photo Credit: FoxNewsInsider.com

There is perhaps no bigger part of society more impacted by the advancement of technology than the media. In an age where there are new ways to gather information about what is happing in the world, an important question is brought up: what is necessary in reporting?

A few weeks ago, Fox News launched a brand new, technologically advanced studio. Called the “Fox News Deck,” the revamped studio features a massive video board and multiple “BATS” (Big Area Touch Screens) where “information specialists” gather details to report on. Viewers can watch as these “information specialists” work on massive screens to bring the public the most up-to-date information in real-time.

The switch to the new studio layout has gained quite a fair share of attention – especially through parodies from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

Stephen Colbert devoted a whole segment of his show to poke fun at the “Fox News Deck.”

“Yes, the Fox News Deck,” Colbert said on his program. “It’s like Star Trek’s holodeck. It feels like you’re surrounded by news, but it’s all an illusion.”

“That’s a big map,” Jon Stewart said on “The Daily Show” referring to Fox’s massive video board. “You do know though, that no matter how huge you blow up your in-studio maps and monitors, our televisions are still the same size.”

Some call these innovations futuristic. Others call them meaningless. The question is: are these modifications really necessary?

Does having a giant screen with large monitors interest viewers? Do these features enhance the news? Are these features turning into the news itself? Has the “news” turned into a “show” more than anything else?

These are all questions for the viewers of Fox News and news programs in general – Fox is not the only network that has made big technological changes. Some people may prefer the advanced style of reporting with the most up-to-date technology available to TV networks. Others may prefer a more simplistic, old school style of the news.

In defense of these networks, reporting the news is not the only responsibility. Ratings need to be solid, especially in comparison to competitors, to sell spots to advertisers at a decent price to make a profit. Reporting news is just as much of a business as anything else. So, if these kinds of changes help with viewership and overall interest of programs, then it can be deemed a success. Only time will tell if it pays off.

As a college student in the Communication Studies Department, this is a huge topic of discussion. In one of my courses, Introduction to Mass Media, we devoted a whole class to discussing this hot issue relating to the media. For many of us in the lecture hall, we have a planned and desired future in the media. Even as a Public Relations major, the characteristics of the media and news reporting can impact how I do my work in my field. The media is constantly evolving, job titles are constantly changing, and the future is very uncertain. Still, I look at this as an exciting time and I look forward to finding my place in this crazy environment one day.

Even for those college students not associated with studies similar to mine, they are still impacted. Anyone who consumes media and news is affected by these changes like the ones made by Fox. Consuming and understanding news is an important part of keeping up with society. If the process of reporting news is altered, it can change how people view the world.

So, with all these complex changes, the debate continues. Is this good?

About the Author

Travis Barend is a first year student at SUNY Oswego majoring in Public Relations. In addition to his studies, Travis is a member of PRSSA and is a student blogger for SUNY Oswego's website. Travis enjoys writing about NASCAR racing in his spare time. He has spent the recent years writing for various websites, including Speedwaymedia.com, a website a part of NASCAR's citizen journalist media corps. He also contributes a weekly news column for NASCARTheGame.com, the official website of the NASCAR video game series. Travis also has his own blog, TracksideChatter.com, where he also posts racing content. You can follow Travis on Twitter @TracksideTravis, but be warned. He tweets about NASCAR. A lot.
Email: tbarend@oswego.edu
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