The Internet and the Written Word: World War Three?

Alexa Crandall is a sophomore English major at Stanford University. This blog entry refers to a research assignment for a PWR 2 course in the winter term of 2011.

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”  We hear this exclamation and immediately our minds are transported back the 1930s, to the Depression, to the days when the newspaper was our source of hard facts and information.  Now, it seems that we gather seek information not from a little boy selling papers on the street, but rather from “Googling it”.  This change in information relation and writing medium is not only due to an elapse of time, but also attributed to a rise in the Internet.  The process by which we find information is drastically changing to be less centered around hard print and more dependent upon the Internet.  But, this change raises questions about the future of writing and journalism.  How does this trend affect the culture of writing and its role in society?  Through research I hope to investigate the shift from hard print to Internet journalism and its affect on the culture of writing as well as the nature of journalism itself.

In a June 14 article of the New York Times, Jeremy Peters discusses the affects of this shift away from hard copy newspapers and the potential role of the government in attempting to reverse this trend.  Peters discusses the problem as a matter of “making the business of gathering information profitable again”.  He goes on to weigh the pros and cons of government intervention in the newspaper industry as a means of re-establishing the newspaper as a main form of information relation.  This article contributes to my investigation into this trend because not only does it directly discuss reactions to this trend, but also the secondary actions that the government and the printing industry have discussed pursuing.  As much as those who profit from the circulation of the hard copy newspaper would like to see its continuance, there is also a resistance to government intervention into what has always been an industry free from government jurisdiction.  Most importantly, this article recognizes this shift from hard printing to Internet as a shift that does affect the way we find information, and on an even greater level, reveals to us that this shift has implications that are being dealt with on the governmental level.  This article presents the issue as multi-faceted not only in terms of those in favor of the shift and those resisting the shift, but also in that it relates the qualms of how to remedy this shift on the part of those who want to see the newspaper survive.

As I continue my research, I hope to find sources such as this article that discuss the issue of this shift in the medium of information relay from a somewhat balanced, unbiased point of view. I recognize, of course, that this article was written by in a print newspaper, and thus, the medium of the sources that I use in my research will be doubly important in analyzing their implications and opinions.

This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Student Research, Networked Rhetoric: Section 2, Stanford Networked Rhetorics class. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Internet and the Written Word: World War Three?

  1. Pingback: Researching Networked Culture | The Cross-Cultural Rhetoric Blog

  2. Nikhil Raghuram says:

    Hi Allie,
    I’m really fascinated by this topic; as someone who likes to read the news, the issue of how to keep newspapers going is important. I also found the idea of government intervention in the newspaper industry to be quite interesting. I think that government intervention would lead to a whole host of interesting effects and concerns. I don’t know if this idea is a mainstream one or how well it factors into your research argument at this point, but I think it might be an interesting idea to discuss in your project, depending on your focus. I also think you make a very good point when you mention that this article was written in a newspaper. For this type of project, it would be important to note the potential biases based on the type of source, which you already mentioned, so its great that you’re keeping this in mind while you’re doing your research. So, great post, and I can’t wait to hear about your final project.

  3. Coulton Bunney says:

    Hi Allie,
    I really liked your post. The introduction paragraph was engaging and by appealed to me (it reminded me of the awesome musical, The Newsises). The fact that it is obvious that you are going much beyond the differences in Internet and print writing is great. While I think that those differences ought to be outlined in your project, I think the consequences and actual changes occurring is far more interesting. As for the government intervention, this has far reaching effects, as funding from the source of your news must inevitably lead to biased reporting (would NYTimes get more money than the Washington Post from a liberal government?) . I hope the rest of your research goes well. The fact that you can use print articles to do your research, as well as Internet articles makes for an interesting paradigm as you move forward. Good luck!

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