The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism recently completed a study looking at traditional media’s treatment of technology.
The mainstream news media have offered the American public a divided view of how information technology influences society, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Over the past year, messages about the promise of technology making life easier and awe about new gadgets have vied in the news with worries about privacy, child predators, shrinking attention spans and danger behind the wheel.
The most prevalent underlying message about technology’s influence has been upbeat—the notion that technology is making life easier and more productive. Nearly a quarter of all technology stories studied from June 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, conveyed this idea. But that was closely followed by the sense that with that convenience comes risk—to our privacy and particularly to our children—which made up nearly two-in-ten stories, according to the study.
Journalists are also split on just what single events or stories should get the most attention. The lead goes to the negative side of the ledger while second place is about happier things.
The biggest single event or storyline during the year involved the perils of technology: the hazardous yet compulsive practice of texting while driving. Nearly one-in-ten technology stories were about this subject, more than five times the coverage of either the U.S. plan for broadband access and six times the coverage devoted to the debate over net neutrality.
The second-biggest storyline addressed a more positive development: the launch of the latest Apple iPhones. Attention to the release of the iPad was not far behind.
Personally, I think the journalists got the order correct because I have noticed an increase what looks like drunk driving during the daylight hours but is likely more attributable to “TWD” (texting while driving). While you may not want to hear it I’m going to say it anyway. If you are reading this and you text while you drive you are a menace to society (among several other unmetionables here). Stop putting yourself and everyone around you at risk so you can ‘finish that thought’. *This public service message has been brought to by BATADS (Bloggers Against Texting and Driving Simultaneously. We are an unofficial, small and very powerless group ;-))
So back to journalists and technology. The company that gets the most press is Apple. It’s just another place where Google needs to work to unseat Apple’s supremacy (both real and perceived).
Another point of interest
On blogs, technology overall drove less of the conversation than on Twitter. Over the 13-month time period, just 11% of the top linked-to news stories each week related to technology, versus 51% on Twitter. It was here, though, that Google finally garnered more attention than Apple.
So overall it looks like that journalist love to talk about technology but they are also quick to point a cautionary finger at the woes created by that technology. It’s the digital age’s version of the saying “you can’t have it both ways”.
In the end, it will be interesting to see how journalists cover the end of their industry as they know it as we transition further and further into the Digital Age. Will they just go quietly into that good night or will they do what they can to delay the inevitable?