Kill trees, roll tape

Traditional media can't die out until the masses value immediacy and interactivity to the point of need

Early advocates of a pervasive online culture cast the stereotype of mainstream media outlets as closed-minded, slow, dictatorial, William Randolph Hearst-style machines bent on shutting out differing viewpoints and smaller voices. More sober minds saw traditional media less as an enemy of free expression than a horse and buggy. However, advancing technology is only an enabler of societal evolution. By itself, technology does not spawn evolution on a societal level. That requires need and availability.

There is no question that the Internet has addressed the technical limitations of traditional media. You couldn't remake a newspaper, radio station, magazine, or TV station into a wide open information source that is updated every microsecond. Methods of gathering and delivering information via scheduled publication and broadcast can't match the immediacy and inclusiveness of the Internet. With traditional media, all news is old, very few voices are heard and every outlet can be said to have an agenda. If these are the problems, the Internet holds the solutions. But there are still those matters of need and availability.

For the great majority of Americans, information and opinion are delivered the same way they have been since the 1950s. People still listen to the radio in the shower and on the drive to and from work. They read the paper with breakfast and on the train, eat dinner with the TV news on, and divide the sections of the Sunday paper among pajama-clad companions. Some people enjoy the process of interactively selecting and prioritizing the information sources they use. In the main, the process of staying informed is passive. TV and radio are media we consume while our hands are busy with other things, when interaction with our information sources would be impractical or intrusive.

Because I work in print media, it would be tacky to trumpet the advantages unique to magazines, except for one advantage that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere: You can finish reading a magazine. If it weren't for the ability to read Newsweek and the few other magazines that I read cover to cover, I'd be online day and night. Traditional media snips the fuse on the three-click phenomenon: Clicking through three hyperlinks will often take you someplace that causes you to forget what you hit the Internet to study. Publications, TV, and radio broadcasts need replacing because their content is finite, but at least when you're finished reading, watching or listening, you get back to your work or your life.

The case for a faster and more inclusive, more interactive means of staying informed and informing others is easy to make among with readily available access to the necessary technology. Most people can afford a television. Anyone who can read can have a newspaper waiting at their door. In contrast, people have no control over access to broadband Internet, and, unfairly, the most informative content is tailored for broadband users. Using the Net is painful at 256Kbps or less. Dial-up is the Internet ghetto. What kind of connectivity you get is decided by telcos, cable companies, landlords, and income.

The Internet is the right vehicle for carrying information to the masses, but traditional media, as technologically backward and restrictive as it is, can't die out until the masses value immediacy and interactivity to the point of need, and everyone can get access to the Net for the price of a subscription to the local paper.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Yager

Show Comments


Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >



Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >


Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?