In today's churning-information scene, are we becoming better or poorly served by media outlets, online and off?
This is a key question for PR tacticians, and impressions aren't encouraging: better in terms of fluff and worse, possibly, in terms of hard information.
Take for, example, Laura Spencer's reflections on the Everything PR blog, "Has New Media Ruined the News?"
"Are we," Spencer asks, "already well on our way towards becoming a society based on fluff and emotions?"
It comes as a possible rhetorical question, but a trend toward hastily prepared-and-posted online content seems evident.
Spencer's take: "Every day as part of what I do I am on Twitter. I also review Google Trends (which shows what people are searching for). These two sources serve as an indication of popular topics online."
"What I see isn’t the meaty information that an informed citizen needs to know to make intelligent decisions in today’s world. It isn’t even information how to improve our health or the environment. Instead, the popular topics are mostly sensational in nature."
"At the moment, the most popular trending topic on Twitter is #FirstDateRules, which appears to be a bunch of Twitter users giving out dating advice. The most popular Google trending topic today is Olympic Ice Dancing. (Of course, these trends change all the time. By the time you read this post something else entirely may be popular.)"
"Is information based on these sorts of topics really what we need to know? Do you think online content has ruined the news?"
Such a statement of the media problem may be unfair, or it may, indeed, indicate an unnerving trend. The fate of news and the roles of the people who provide it are worth pondering.
There are likely to be opportunities as well as losses -- opportunities for new ways of relating but losses for society at large -- and that's us.