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Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: At heart of digital age

Don Rogers
editor@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

Language began 50,000 to 70,000 years ago, in South Africa, according to a new study.

Writing came 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Gutenberg’s printing press 600 years ago, regular newspapers 400 years ago, the telegraph 200 years ago, telephone 100 years ago, radio stations 90 years ago, television stations 60-70 years ago, websites 18 years ago. The cell phone became ubiquitous only within the past 10 years. The smart phone and iPad, well, that was about yesterday.

We’ve got aggregation, geo-location, search and social media metastasizing by the minute.



So what’s that mean for journalism?

A talk to the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy on Monday morning served as the first draft for this column. Two birds with one stone. Time has become very precious.



So, journalism in the digital age. That was the topic, and a rich one that keeps lots of much smarter people than me awake at night.

I’m pretty sanguine about this, though, even with all this “crisis in journalism” business, which certainly is real. Or maybe I should rephrase. The crisis lies in the business of journalism. Competition for advertising dollars has fragmented and diffused the funding for journalism as practiced in the West.

In the countries that don’t have a business of journalism but state-controlled news media, it’s a whole different deal. Think Egypt, even Iran.



Our traditional news media business models are challenged where we have the free press. The digital age where governments muzzle their press fosters revolt, not just change.

I thought about school as an illustration for the kids. When I was their age, I turned in writing assignments on notebook paper, ink for the final draft. In college, I wrote several drafts in longhand and then typed out the final paper.

My kids and the academy students do all their work on computers. I’m sure they could, if they really had to, write on a smart phone and email their work from the ski lift.

But the content of their assignments, their essays, and how their teachers grade their work is no different than what my teachers expected from me.

So it is with journalism. The principles have endured, even if the devices and technology evolve at a blinding pace now.

The core of journalism – the art of telling true tales – hasn’t changed so much from the reports of the day around campfires in South Africa 50,000 years ago.

This is in our DNA. We all love a good story. That’s the heart of it.


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