In 2006, a few more predictions
More than 80 managers of The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett news provider, were called up to attend a two-day seminar held across the street at Paul Brown Stadium.
Publisher Margaret Buchanan sported a lime-green t-shirt emblazoned with the words "Change Or Die" in an attempt to set the tone for her Advertising, Circulation IT, Marketing, Newsroom and Production braintrust.
We were divided into eight groups of 10 and challenged to envision what the next generation of news dissemination would include.
In an era of landlines and flip phones, we wanted to leave a lasting impression. And we did so with the help of a bucket-full of sponges.
As I began our presentation, team members scattered among the cavernous room passing out squares of blue, green, orange and purple.
I told my fellow managers to pass around the communication devices that had just been passed out.
From my notes, I said, "What you hold is a new user experience. With the touch of a button, or with the sound of your voice, you soon will be able to make traditional phone calls, send speedy video messages, join conversations in progress, and access a goldmine of data and research. You will take photos and share them with friends, and you will feel lost without the presence of this tiny self-charging news computer in your pockets or purses."
I also spoke of technology that would allow news organizations to disseminate their products to devices the size of a fountain pen that would allow readers to stow-and-go a flexible news surface. The pen, we predicted, also would be able to create 3-D tabletop displays of news videos.
Yes, there was some laughter and disbelief, but this was just a little more than 10 years ago.
And how about the next 20 years?
Journalism 20 years hence will be filled with even stranger bedfellows. There will be non-traditional collaborations based on corporate, educational, religious and/or civic partnerships.
Subliminal advertising will target the wealth of any Baby Boomers on their last legs, Gen-Xers and Millennials. News and information will remain hot commodities. But in 2036 — through media resources — we will be connected swiftly to lawyers, advisers, doctors, authority figures, gurus, family members and friends real and virtual. Interactions will be intense, highly personal and gratifying.
Hovering bot-cams operated within eye-motion command centers will produce live feeds, replays and re-enactments. With minimal guidance,
computer programs will parse information and produce stories. Two-way street-corner news walls will display and print news based on data collected instantaneously from the ID badges of workers, disseminate images and otherwise deliver and accept information formatted according the users’ preferences and other readily available coding.
Thorough, continuous mining and distillation of data will result in more immediate accountability.
Distribution rights (what we used to call
ownership) very well may have deep philanthropic roots. People with common bonds — no matter their locales — still will share their uncommon stories. And, yes, yet another transformative media revolution will be on the horizon, and we will recall the good old days.
Traditionalists had better get used to hearing and learning from the next generation of social media and tech evangelists. They and others already stand at today’s intersection of print, digital and socio-behavioral journalism.
And what do I know about today’s generation? My own daughter is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University. She and her friends want much more than a degree. They want to be extraordinary. They crave honesty, emotional connections and accountability. They have deep-seated principles, a sense of urgency, the need to be heard and a desire for self-fulfillment within a more imaginative and inclusive society.