Behind the Scene
by Randy Limbird
Editor & Publisher, El Paso Scene
When I was growing up, my dad traveled a lot in the military, and I would get letters from around the world addressed to “Master Randy Limbird.” (“Master” was the old-fashioned title used for any male too young to be considered a “Mister.”). Kids don’t get much mail like that anymore. I suppose it’s much more advantageous that today a parent can make a video call instead, or at the very least, communicate instantly via email or text.
Yet there’s a bit of a loss not having that handwritten note to treasure and keep in a drawer beside the bed. That’s typical of most of our technological advances. We gain tons of convenience but there’s almost always a price paid in quality.
Letters require a level of effort and thinking that modern communication often bypasses. Putting ink on paper takes a little more time. It wasn’t uncommon for a letter to sit unfinished on a desk for days if it addressed something of serious concern. Nowadays it’s rare if we wait more than a few seconds before we hit “send” or “publish” and our email, text or post instantly goes to its audience.
That increasingly is true for most of the so-called news published online and in social media. Newspapers used to have until the final deadline to reconsider any article before the presses started rolling. Even broadcasters could review stories before the evening news program began. But today’s online journalists are on deadline every minute of the day.
The Pew Research Center announced a few weeks ago that Americans are more likely to get news from social media than newspapers. Twenty percent of people said they used social media such as Facebook and Twitter as a frequent news source, compared to 16 percent who relied on newspapers. Not surprisingly, the trend is greatest among younger
In fact, among people age 18-29, social media and websites heavily outweighed TV, radio and print in terms of news
consumption. People 50 and older still rely heaviest on television.
What’s most startling to me is the fact that all this “new media” has emerged in the last two decades. Newspapers have been around for centuries, and broadcast news goes back nearly 100 years. The first daily newspaper in the U.S. began publication in 1784. The first radio news broadcast was made in 1920; the first TV news programs went on air in 1941.
So today’s journalists are basically writing the rules themselves when it comes to modern media. If they did attend journalism school, few of their professors had much experience in this kind of news. And of course, no one needs to have a journalism degree to set up shop as a news website publisher or blogger.
The one silver lining for us at El Paso Scene is that social media does produce a wealth of weird and wacky news reports that make great fodder for our annual Gecko awards. So much so, in fact, that we gave Social Media the top award for 2018. You can find out why the old-
fashioned way — by reading actual ink on newsprint beginning on Page 19.
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This month’s cover artist is Sharon Dowd. I noticed her work at the Celebration of Our Mountains art exhibit on display at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing. If you are interested in her artwork, send me an email and I’ll forward it to her. And all artists and photographers are always invited to send me their “El Paso Scenes” for future cover consideration.
Here's the Ticket
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
Keep on Bookin'
Copyright 2019 by Cristo Rey Communications.