Friday, January 14, 2011

When robots choose the news . . .

Interesting news item this morning in my Google News roundup. I have alerts there for stories about newspapers, and this one showed up under the heading "Cop Kills Wife, Child, Self." It's about a South African policeman who killed his wife, child and himself.

It had nothing to do with newspapers. They weren't mentioned in the story, photo captions, heading. Nowhere. So why was it listed under newspapers? Don't have a clue, but it does reinforce my suspicion of "news selected by robots." I can't depend on them to get it right. In fact, they're just as fallible as humans.

Radio was most effective in delivering earthquake news to Haiti, analysis finds

Along comes an analysis that reminds us that various forms of media have their own strengths and weaknesses. It's a story about the earthquake in Haiti. It concludes that radio -- really old media -- was the most import in getting the story out.

That's not shocking, if you think about it. Radio is free, can be independent of the need for electricity, and is immediate. All the other forms, especially the Internet, are deficient in at least one of those.

Maybe the Internet isn't really going to kill all forms of old media.

AOL move reminds us of need for journalism

The announcement by AOL that it is shifting more toward becoming a portal and streaming "content" provided by others actually makes a strong point for journalism education.

"Content" is written. And it's written by people. Journalism teaches students who to write and manage news, which is what "content" is all about. The techies are needed since someone has to set up and manage Internet sites. But the Internet is full of "content," and that needs writers. There's a bright future in journalism.