Literacy no longer just refers to the ability to read and write a formal language. Anyone in the School of Education can attest to the new emphasis being placed on visual literacy as an important component of education. Some argue that we are moving into a "post-literate" age where most of our information is communicated not through writing and text but through images and graphic media.There are consequences of this shift that serve to better our species, and results that we must be wary of embracing.This new post-literate age will spread information faster over a larger area of the globe and create an environment where it is easier to access information from many sources, thus making governments more transparent and people more knowledgeable of the global pulse.There is a disturbing movement, however, away from text and traditional literary forms. We read less and we watch more than ever before. A direct result of this trend is the death of the newspaper and the move to television news. It's not just local news shows, but corporate news stations like CNN and Fox News. This particular change will not better our species.The problems with replacing newspapers with televised news stations include a myopic concentration on volume, the increased temptation to go beyond reporting facts to intentionally stirring controversy and the blurring - or even sometimes complete breakdown - of the lines separating news from opinion. The latter is my biggest concern. There seems to be much more news "analysis" than reporting going on at many of these stations.The advantage newspapers have over television news programs in this regard is the clear labeling of the news and opinion sections. It's hard to remember that what you're watching is editorializing when "Fox NEWS" is at the bottom of the screen the whole time, or when a CNN anchor seamlessly segues into an expert "analysis" of a quickly summarized news report and calls it more "in-depth" coverage.I write for both the news and opinion sections of The Lamron, and I can attest that there is a clear difference in mentality behind the two writing processes - a separate philosophy.As a news writer, one must be objective. Events happen or they don't; we don't make up facts when it's convenient or say things that aren't true or substantiated in order to make our articles more interesting. As an opinion writer, one is subjective. Events don't just happen, they have meaning, and you're going to tell it to everyone.These views of reality - objective and subjective - cannot be reconciled into the same account of an event honestly in a news report to the public. News stations have proven this by their failure to provide their necessary service honestly and clearly to the American people. Are newspapers free of bias and editorializing? No. There is a degree of human subjectivity that can never be completely eliminated. But I'll take the bias of how facts are reported in a newspaper over the unabashed interjection of opinion into a news report on television any day.
Jesse Goldberg is a sophomore English major who just bought stock in the NY Times. Hopefully this will offset the dramatic loss he made on his sea monkey investment.