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News dissemination will look different in the future

Douglas Fritz • Feb 19, 2018 at 8:00 AM

People used to rely on one or two main sources for their news.

In the future, news may become exceedingly piecemeal.

In the news-king days of Walter Cronkite, circa 1962-81, people trusted him. If he said it, read it, or showed it, folks absorbed it as the truth. When the internet became a thing in the mid-1990s, news sources began to multiply. Then they exploded.

Catch the drift here. Yes, there are still trusted news people, like Lester Holt. Yes, there are trusted news sources. But there’s little unity across the board. Even established news organizations, like CNN and Fox, are viewed skeptically by many people.

As is the case with nearly everything that changes, things don’t go backward. They progress in a sometimes-disjointed direction away from what was. So news dissemination won’t ever go back to the Cronkite days. And you can be equally sure it won’t remain as it is today.

NEWS IN 2048

When a person awakes from a night’s rest, they will activate their communication device through their brain-computer interface — similar to the way you immediately grab your smartphone today. Your interface will ask if you are ready to hear your “news reports.”

Based on your recent activities — recorded GPS movements over the past few days, purchases, people contacted, devices used — the interface will produce a custom package of information. For example, perhaps it is a Saturday morning in the fall, and the interface will give you weather reports for the football game you may be attending. You might receive transportation-impedance updates, crime reports for that city (especially around the stadium), food specials at restaurants, and so forth.

As you can see, most of these reports have an agenda. The source will become a minor concern for the listener, and reports will be mentally absorbed as fact. It will all fall under the umbrella of “helpful information,” and will be taken without a grain of salt.

News organizations will have increased difficulty in maintaining credibility. Everything will be strained by people who believe these groups are biased.

A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT

Some of the aforementioned things will be accurate, but there will be a citizen-trust stamp on news reports. For example, an alarm will sound from your interface, stating there has been a homicide in a nearby town. The report will have a “trust count” based on the number of people who accept the trust option. The report will also have a “verified count,” which will rely on actual witnesses or those who work for an organization that has dealt specifically with the crime.

Also, clicking on the “trust count” will reveal the individual people who responded. Each of those people will have a “trust count value.” These values are based on the people in the verified count. The higher the number of verifications, the greater boost for the individual’s “trust count.”

YOU CAN’T KNOW THAT

Much speculation has been made about the future of news dissemination, but one thing seems certain: It won’t stay the same. From national down to local, the landscape of telling people what is going on in their world will take on different shapes and forms with varying degrees of accuracy. The catch is: Compromising accuracy is the one thing that could cause the greatest damage.

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