Maybe you don't have a smart phone or a tablet computer or a laptop. Maybe the only connection you have with the internet is a clunky Dell desktop computer in your home. Maybe you still depend on television to bring you the day's news at 6 p.m. each day. Maybe you read the morning newspaper to get the latest news.
If this is the case, even though you may not think so, you are essentially "off the grid." You are so far behind the curve, the curve is booting you in the gluteus maximus. The Commercial Appeal told me Tuesday morning that 51 people had died in the Oklahoma City tornado. On the way to work, NPR told me that many victims had been counted twice and that the death toll was much lower.
But before I read the paper or listened to NPR, I'd already checked my Twitter feed, which I'd set to alert me to any tweets about the disaster. During the night, hundreds of pictures, videos, and links to stories about the tornado had been posted. I'd created my own "newspaper" on the event. I looked at video from Oklahoma City residents, online reports from the Daily Oklahoman, local television clips. I read firsthand accounts from residents. I saw the Facebook page that had been created for victims to locate their possessions, which had been scattered over four counties. I saw pictures of rescued dogs.
This is where news is going. This is where it already is for most people under 30. Everyone's a potential reporter; everyone's their own editor. Fewer and fewer people are waiting for their local media to bring them news of a national or international story. They go where the action is, as it's happening.
People who are following the Grizzlies-Spurs series are doing the same thing. They are checking online stories by Memphis and San Antonio media outlets, as well as those by national sports-media sites. I would be amazed if more than a handful of Grizzlies fans learn of the latest game results from the morning paper. They already know the score; they want the back-story, the deep dish.
That means those of us in print media have to focus on what we do best — providing context, analysis, and in-depth reporting on local news — content that complements the work we do online. Like it or not, we're part of the global news smorgasbord — media cogs in a world that is consuming information in ever more sophisticated and complex ways.
Hopefully, you didn't read it here first.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.