Zen and the Art of Reporting

Posted: January 26, 2011 by Hilary Paige Smith in Uncategorized

To me, it seems Robert Pirsig values simplicity. The stripped down, barebones feeling of traveling with family and friends, maintaining his mode of transportation with his own hands and entertaining philosophical ideals.

2011 is already fast-paced, guaranteed to be flash by even quicker than 2010 did. I heard somewhere that the majority of all phones are expected to be smart phones by the end of this year. Somewhere, companies are churning out these chunks of plastic, metal and data and calculating exactly how much money they’ll generate. And they will generate money.

I know this because I broke out of a phone contract, caused many a ruckus at Bell customer service and paid extra money to get a smart phone. Now, I can’t keep my hands off of it.

I got the newest Blackberry Bold model, because I had to have it. This new model came out mere months after the former did and I shelled out an extra $50 to have Blackberry 6, rather than Blackberry 5.5. I have no idea why. I just knew I wanted my phone to be faster, smarter and last longer. Now, when I see people buying Blackberries, they are buying this new model. Saving money isn’t important, getting the best product is. But are these products really the best?

Pirsig would argue they aren’t. Based on the information in his piece, I doubt I would argue they are either.

I bought my new smartphone with the full knowledge that another model would replace it and be better/faster/stronger in just six months, barely scraping the surface of my expensive three-year contract. I bought this even knowing the world is in for a smartphone revolution and companies would be working their hardest to churn out better models, leaving my Blackberry Bold 9780 in the dust.

This isn’t quality, it’s quantity. It’s getting products on shelves while they’re relevant and selling them as quality.

This same idea of quality vs. quantity and getting a product out, maybe before it’s at it’s best quality, is also a problem the news world is facing. I can update “news” from my smartphone in an instant, even before fact-checking or making  sure my work is of a high-quality. And many people do this.

Rumours are started every day online and news stories are blown far out of proportion by fast fingers producing low-quality journalism. This is a world where being first is better than being the best.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I like the immediacy of tools like Twitter to give me my headlines quickly, and I appreciate the high-quality work on sites like the Globe and Mail to give me accurate information.

The quality vs. quantity (and speed) of reporting is changing, and this changes the way we receive and transmit news.



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