FEEDBACK: AN EXAMINATION OF TECHNOLOGY, SIGNAL AND NOISE IN NEWS PRODUCTION
News is a central component of understanding a society; it connects people over great distances and can tie together diverse communities. To accomplish this however, requires advanced technologies particular to each era of news. This study focuses on three distinct time periods characterized by news and the technologies that produce the news. Those three periods are Early American printing, underground printing in the 1960s and the present, which encompasses the Internet and Web technologies. Much work has already been done examining news, and ample studies have been produced looking at technology. This study is different in that it focuses on the news producer-news consumer divide and how consumers provide their feedback to producers. I identify feedback as a combination of signal and noise, the desired and the clutter, to examine the content produced and the relationship between producers and consumers.To examine this divide I look at six publications spanning the eighteenth to twenty first century to find examples of feedback and how technology influenced that interaction. In addition, where appropriate and feasible, I conducted interviews with consumers who produced their own publications designed to counter the mainstream press.This resulted in finding that technology did drive the process and that each technology must be examined in the context of its time. Furthermore, I found that different technologies resulted in different kinds of feedback and consequently direct comparisons between one time period and another are difficult to make. However, while the technologies changed over time, technology's impact remained large and consistent.This study connects two mostly separate areas, journalism and technology by examining how the two main participants, producers and consumers, utilize the technologies to interact with each other. Looking at this divide found that over time the existence of feedback remains constant and that the skills and costs required to participate are reduced allowing more ever-present noise to obscure the signal.
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