Opinion: Communication-age

POSTED: 06/27/12 12:26 PM

We live in the so-called communication age. The internet, Twitter, smart phones, Facebook, satellite TV – all these options put truckloads of information at people’s fingertips. But there is a difference between the communication-age and the information-age. The latter seems to have a tough time.
Cable TV for instance offers hundreds of channels, but viewers have found out to their dismay that it is hard to find anything that is really interesting to watch.
The internet had become a tool for easy access to pornography and also a tool for Nigerian scammers. Twitter is the method Geert Wilders uses to send his barbs into the world without having to face a real journalist and Facebook is, some useful applications aside, a message board for the world’s largest cesspool of useless information. Smart phones may be smart, but the same cannot be said of the people who own them. When it is time for some real life contacts (like: in making an old fashioned phone call) most batteries are dead, the user can’t take your call right now, or the phone is simply lost in the laundry room or in the bedroom of someone the owner is not married to.
All this paints a bleak picture of the information hunger among what old hands in the labor union movement still call the masses. Stupidity rules is another way of describing the situation.
Recently released figures about the fate of print media in the Netherlands more or less confirm the trend. National newspapers have a hard time: their circulation declines and publishers are looking for ways to cut costs.
Circulation for the Volkskrant was down 4.1 percent in the first quarter of this year; the Algemeen Dagblad lost 2.1 percent, the Amsterdam-based Parool 6.9 percent and Trouw saw its readership shrink with 4.2 percent.
The Telegraaf, for once was one of the biggest losers, together with the Financieel Dagblad. The Telegraaf saw 31,000 readers leave, the Financieel Dagblad 5,000. The situation at the latter title is so bad, that the company has decided to slash editorial jobs.
There is one tiny light at the end of the tunnel: the circulation of broadsheet NRC Handelsblad was up 0.6 percent. There are at least some readers left with an interest in quality information, but apart from that, the information-age seems to be slowly dying.

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