. The Transom .

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Living in a future focused economy

It used to be that you would wake up, stumble out the front door to get the paper and read about what happened yesterday. You would go to work and talk about yesterday's events around the water cooler. If a story broke after deadline, it wouldn't make it out until the following day.

Today you wake up, stumble out the front door to get the paper and read about what's going to happen today. You go to work and talk about tomorrow's events. If a story breaks late in the day, you're notified on your RSS feed immediately.

We live in a future focused economy.

Because print media can no longer compete with broadcast and online coverage of current events, they must resort to predicting the future. (sidebar: interestingly, the term 'current events' has changed dramatically over the last ten years. In 1995, it could have meant within a week. Today, it means in the last eight hours.) Newspapers use headlines like, "Fed Expected to Raise Rates" or "Bush to Announce Reduction of Energy Plan in State of the Union Address." They aren't reporting what happened. They're reporting what will happen. If only I could take them to the track...

The tradeoff is what it has always been: quality and depth. The quality and depth of the written word is superior to auditory communications. They may not tell you about what happened yesterday, since you already know, but papers can tell you in great detail about why something is supposed to happen.

The reason for all of this (other than the speed of the Internet) is the proliferation of 'news.' As the news business got more and more competitive, news media had to find a new way to differentiate themselves from the competition. And thus, future focused economies were born. The 27/7 cable outlets are content to let the print media own the future driven position since they have to constantly stay on top of breaking stories, often changing the story as the facts unfold.

To be sure, there is room for both old and new methods. However, I'm waiting for the day I see the headline, "Cardinals to Win World Series Next Week: Yankees Stunned."


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