The Vision

News reporting

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2015


News is about timely topics that matter to people. In 2050 what matters will have changed a lot, so the topics that will be reported on will be quite different. In addition to that change, the changes in communication technology will also bring about big differences both in what are considered timely topics, and what are considered proper actions to be taken by news makers.

A quick history of news

Being interested in what's going on around a person is instinctive -- it has always paid big dividends. But what is interesting -- what is news -- changes with the environment. In Neolithic Village environment what is interesting is what is happening in the plants, animals and people around the village a person is living in. In the Agricultural Age environment it is what is happening in the fields and people around the farm. In the Industrial Age environment it is what is happening in factories and markets served by the companies a person works for. And in all of the above environments threats of violence are top priority -- "Watch out!" Hence, the famous journalistic slogan, "If it bleeds, it leads."

In 2050 what will be of interest will have changed again, and how these news topics will be disseminated will change as well.

Topics of interest

Since the people of 2050 are going to be mostly TES-acclimated -- as in, divorced from the harsh reality of both working for a living and understanding how things work -- people-oriented, emotion-based topics will dominate most forms of news dissemination. This means news will be about things such as entertainment, sports, human interest, cute pets. Fearful news will also still be a regular news topic -- the "it bleeds, it leads" items will still be very much in the news. But what will be causing those fears will have changed.

Mixed in with these will be artisanal-level "How to" advice on topics such as cooking, travel, living healthy lifestyles, and getting ahead in the world. Another large category will be passing around gossip and urban legends.

Since cyber will dominate large scale manufacturing and service activities, business news in its 2010's form will be a small specialty niche. The human who can understand large scale business activity will be the rare person, so it won't pay to produce much of this sort of news. For the same reason there will be little interest in hard science and lots of interest in urban legend-based pseudo science.

How it will be presented

How news will be presented will change dramatically once again. In the 1800's the high tech news distribution method was newspapers. In the 1930's high tech was radio and movie theater news reels. In the 1950's TV moved to the forefront -- in sum, there have been constant revolutions in how news is disseminated. In 2050 things will be different again.

In 2050 most news will come through wearables. This brings the potential for even more vividness and more real-timeness than what is possible in the 2010's. How news interpretation will be done -- how a newscaster or commentator will add to this news stream -- will be done in new ways as well.

In most cases this expert opinion will be adding less insight than older systems added simply because things are happening so quickly -- there will be so little time for a commentator to reflect on what has happened because they will be asked to comment while it is happening. They will be much more like sports announcers are in the 2010's. In addition, because these commentators are as TES-acclimated as their viewers, the opinions will be much more emotion-based than in the 2010's.

The difference the tech makes

These revolutions do more than just move news faster, they affect how people feel about the actions taking place. This means what is acceptable behavior will change.

An example: One of the big differences that the 1990's communications revolutions made was making large scale political violence unacceptable. Compare the violence of the political movements of the 1920's and 30's with the violence of the political movements of the 1990's and 2000's. The fall of the USSR in 1990 was much less violent than its rise in 1920, and the Chinese government still considers the violence of Tiananmen Square in 1989 an embarrassment -- which is so much different than the feelings about the violence that happened in the Mao-era Cultural Revolution of 1966-76.

What actions -- domestic and political -- people of 2050 consider acceptable will be quite different from what is considered acceptable in the 2010's. There will be surprises, of course, but some patterns of the 2010's are likely to strengthen. One is prescriptionist-controlled speech.

"Say it right, son!"

Speech intolerance is likely to strengthen because so little conversation will affect the harsh reality around a person. If you're not building or repairing a car, then straight talk about how to do that well is not going to make the world around you work better. This means if someone comes up with a prescriptionist opinion about car repair that is quite crazy, it makes no difference... unless they can ostracize someone else for not having the same opinion.

This means emotion can dominate even more than in the 2010's, so prescriptionist opinions about what is proper talk will be much more common in 2050. Correct speech will be on every newscasters' mind in 2050.


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