A Day in the Life

Posted: January 19, 2011 by Mike Carter in #1 Media Diary

Dirty, Dirty Social MediaA Diary of Media Consumption

It is the era of easy access, and it’s not hard to tell. Everything from food consumption, to communication and information gathering is billed as a one-stop, spend-what-you-got experience.

Has this changed the way we think about and interact with the world? Of course! The debate rages on about whether new technological changes are all bad, all good or somewhere in between. The future of news in a new media world is a fascinating area of interest for any serious journalist or student of journalism.

Like it or lump it, we live in a world permeated with technologies of all kinds. Whether the highway is metaphorical, as in the information highway, or literal, as in the 4-lane highways of New Brunswick (Canada’s drive through province), there is a sense among many that there is something being missed in our age of increasingly quick and easy access. There is also a sense within the news community of a great opportunity for transformational change – an information revolution. This change, of course, is in the way we communicate, receive and discuss information.

For this week’s blog, we have been asked to keep a media diary outlining “a day in the life” of media consumption.

Thursday January 13, 2011:

Last night I went to bed listening to the CBC’s Overnight program. I was lucky enough to get a real nice Grundig S350DL shortwave radio for my birthday this year with a sleep function which I set for 30 minuets, just enough to get myself into a snooze. Public Radio International’s program, The World, was on between 1:00am and 2:00am. The World is a news and features program on the Overnight repertoire that reminds me of As it Happens.

Before I drifted off, I set my radio alarm clock for the morning. Waking up to the radio is much more pleasant than the shock of that annoying buzzer alarm and so when it went off at 8 AM, it was the CBC again. This time, Information Morning filled my room with Terry Seguin’s voice. Although his interview style gets to me sometimes, I do enjoy this program in the morning. I continue listening to the radio as The Current comes on while getting ready for the day.

After having a shower and grabbing something for breakfast, I switched my laptop on and signed into both MSN messenger and Facebook. I poked around checking the “news feed” and reading my friends status’s that had been updated since I had last been online. Facebook is a pain when I am working. I am not a very good multi-tasker and so when I am on Facebook (and I mean actually on it, not just having the window open in my browser) I find it very distracting. A lot of procrastination and time wasting goes hand-in-hand for me with Facebook and MSN. Some people I talk to have interesting theories about how their Facebook use quadruples when they are in school compared to when they are on vacation.

I closed Facebook. I went to check last night’s hockey scores. I follow my team through its website, its twitter feed and its Facebook updates as well the major sports networks like TSN and ESPN. I also check trade rumor websites to see what’s happening on trade front and I have a fantasy hockey team through ESPN that I check up on regularly. After checking the scores and the standings in my fantasy league, I moved on to the real news of the day.

As is my routine, the first news website I browsed was the BBC. After reading a couple of articles here and viewing a video about the revolution in Tunisia I moved onto the website of the Globe and Mail where the lead story was about the remorse  the owner of a stolen snowplow felt after it struck and killed Toronto Police officer Sergeant Ryan Russell. For an injection of local news and humor I first checked Charles Leblanc’s blog, and then the Daily Gleaner, before proceeding with my day.

As I signed in to Facebook intermittently throughout the day, I noticed something: I multi-task more than I thought. While reading or going over class notes, I find myself chatting on MSN, listening to the radio or having Facebook open, even though I am paying no attention to it. When I take a break from my work, I serf the web looking for anything and everything that might inform or entertain me, with Facebook at most times only a tab away.

My older brother works for Los Cabos , a drumstick manufacturer based in Hanwell, New Brunswick. He maintains their website and their blog. Today he did his first video blog, check it out here. It is a very useful way to get the word out about the company and I watch these whenever they come out and I read the blog often.

I find myself listening to commercial radio a lot more than normal today. Since I started keep track of my media usage for this post, I am more conscious of it. I guess that is why I decided, on a few occasions, to flick on 92.3 FredFM or 105.3 The Fox when normally I wouldn’t have done so.

When I think about the implications of the various types of new media I use, I can’t help but think about the problems a complete reliance on these media forms brings. These problems will be smoothed out as time goes on, but for now they are very real. Mark Coddington writes for the Neiman Journalism lab about one such problem. He describes how initial reports of breaking news stories (especially those using twitter) are more likely to be untrue in the “stream of consciousness” of the web. The moment-to-moment reporting which social media allows gives fact checking far less prominence because immediacy is the norm. After the fact is where longer and more in depth stories are to be found, and are more than likely where the complete story is to be found.

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