What was the future of the press…in the past?

I cannot begin to understand the research that must go into predicting the future of technology, both medical and otherwise. So it is a reflex to laugh at some of the seemingly absurd guesses made in these three videos regarding the future of journalism technology. However, re-watching them and focusing on the, more or less, accurate aspects of them impressed me more than before.

The 1981 KRON report is fascinating to watch today because what they ask you to imagine, is in fact what we do a lot today: read newspapers on our computers. We have definitely come a long way from the method they show us but they predicted the overall concept perfectly. We have a much more efficient method than a phone connection and the visuals we see online are no different than those in print. But the man handing out newspapers towards the end of the video would definitely be out of his job today. Additionally, the fact that David Cole, of the San Francisco Examiner, said that their reason for experimenting was not related to money, is shocking to me as a viewer today. However, it makes sense that the financial struggles the press faces today comes from these advancements. The need for a print newspaper is decreasing now, but Cole didn’t have to worry about that at the time.

The predictions made about the Tablet Newspaper in 1994 were equally impressive but there were also ideas presented that were not executed. I have not used a Tablet or an Ipad, so I don’t have actual experience reading a newspaper on one but I know for a fact that the kiosks and chips mentioned do not exist. I also know that the devices don’t read the news to you – they don’t have an audiobook feature. On top of that, I don’t think any online newspaper, whether it’s on a tablet or on a computer, has interactive graphics. The overall model is not far off though and some of their predicted features could be steps for the future.

Both of these videos had very optimistic perspectives on the future of the journalism industry. They viewed the newspaper entering the “electronic age” as nothing but positive progress. I believe that the readers of today view it in the same light and are grateful for the advancements that have been made, but the people in the industry are struggling to keep print alive. EPIC 2015 took it a little far by predicting that “the press as you know it has ceased to exist.” It’s true that it may not be alive for much longer but as of now we are a year past the predictions and the press still exists. The video accurately highlights a time period in which every organization and company in the industry is competing for the spotlight. The names and years may be off but the prediction that a platform “ranks and sorts news based on what each user’s friends and colleagues are reading and viewing” is shockingly accurate.

It will be interesting to see how today’s predictions will be viewed 20 years down the road.


About ishasinghal

My name is Isha Singhal and I am from Andover, Massachusetts. I am a senior at Northeastern University in Boston, MA and I am majoring in Journalism and minoring in Art. This blog contains my assignments for my Journalism class, but it might also occasionally display pieces that I write on my own time. Those extra features will most likely expose you to my inner foodie and world traveler.
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