Information Superhighway: The Digital Future Can Mean Great News for Newspapers, Journalists and News Consumers

American Journalism Review, May 1994 | Go to article overview

Information Superhighway: The Digital Future Can Mean Great News for Newspapers, Journalists and News Consumers


The next person who compiles a list of journalism pioneers might want to save a footnote for New York Times reporter John Markoff, early cyberscribe.

Fifteen years ago, Markoff was a news-service reporter in Silicon Valley when curiosity caused him to log onto Arpanet, the Pentagon-funded computer network used by elite scientist to swap data. It was an unheard-of-audacity, like crashing an ultra-exclusive cocktail party. But Markoff stayed, and he gained entree to high-powered electronic conversations and contacts unknown elsewhere. "I really was the only kid on my block when I started," he said. "I had a window into a world that no one else had."

Markoff has consistently exploited his advantage. In 1988, his on-line sources helped him identify the perpetrator of the worst computer virus epidemic in U.S. history. Robert T. Morris, a 23-year-old Cornell graduate student, had in one night unwittingly caused the failures of more than 6,000 computers at companies, universities and military facilities across the USA. Markoff fingered him on the front page of the Nov. 5 New York Times. "Most of my sources are accessible over the 'Net." Markoff said. "I use it as much as my telephone."

Today, millions of people worldwide use Internet, Arpanet's descendant, whose offerings compare to those of a megalopolis. Markoff has seen his edge erode as more reporters mine computer networks for sources, ideas and data. Still, he depends on Internet every day as an essential tool of his trade.

Journalists still waiting for the vaunted information superhighway should know that some competitors already are driving on it. Networks such as Internet and on-line services such as America Online, CompuServe, GEnie and Prodigy are changing the way people work and play.

But as the highway continues to develop, important questions remain for the news industry: What does the information superhighway mean for the future of the news media? Will journalists become obsolete? And what will be the consequences for news consumers?

The media convergence

Content - information, entertainment and other services - is the commodity that will be bought, sold and traded along the information superhighway. News organizations are ideally suited to profit and prosper on the highway because they are, in effect, content factories.

Newspapers, particularly, mint enormous quantities of high-quality content every day in the form of news stories. And because people will need old news to give perspective to new news, newspaper libraries are mines of priceless info-ore waiting to be smelted into marketable, digital form.

"It's almost a waste for a newspaper to expend huge resources gathering the news, print it once, then put it away in a box," said Sig Gissler, former editor of The Milwaukee Journal. Distributing news electronically on the information superhighway will let savvy news organizations get more bang for their journalistic bucks.

Many newspapers are starting to do just that, among them USA TODAY, The Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Boston Globe and the Albuquerque Journal.

One year ago, the San Jose Mercury News started an on-line service called Mercury Center, which is available to the 700,000 nationwide customers of America Online. "It is not an electronic newspaper. It has no pretensions of that," said Bill Mitchell, director of electronic publishing for the Mercury News. "Print is clearly the medium for browsing, to be surprised. But if you're searching for something, then the electronic medium is easier."

Mercury Center customers can: tap into the Mercury News electronic newspaper library that dates to June 1985; correspond with Mercury News managers; peruse Mercury News stories in greater detail; read what's happened since the morning newspaper; read 200 to 300 stories daily that the Mercury News has no room for; and access more than a dozen other newspapers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Information Superhighway: The Digital Future Can Mean Great News for Newspapers, Journalists and News Consumers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.