LAS CRUCES — We’ve been doing a lot of thinking, here at the Sun-News, about the ways we communicate in the new millennium.
If you’re a regular visitor to our Web site, www.lcsun-news.com, you’ve probably been noticing a lot of changes in the way we’re doing things, from continuous news updates to more video clips and photo galleries and blogs.
And our Web editor Tracy Patrick reports that more and more of you are spending time with us online. We’re getting about 1.3 million hits a month these days, including more than 30,000 of you who are checking us out for the first time, from locations all over the planet.
I see the changes personally in your e-mails and responses to my Las Cruces Style blog. (To get there: go to www.lcsun-news.com, click on the Blogzone and then on the Las Cruces Style icon.)
There is a lot more diversity in the people I’ve heard from in recent months. My day now can include an inquiry from a Midwestern teen who’s collecting things I’ve written about and comments from people from Alaska to Florida who are interested in moving here and want to learn a little more about what life is like in Las Cruces. Sometimes, I hear from an old high school amigo in Michigan or a long-lost college friend who has come across my byline while searching for something else: a chance meeting in cyberspace.
When I was in journalism school, back in the Jurassic Age, we Baby Boomers heard a lot of dire predictions about the future of newspapers and print media. A lot of those predictions have come true. Afternoon editions have vanished in most places and readers are migrating to different media forms.
Broadcast media, especially television, was expected to reign supreme, certainly in terms of immediacy, and many pundits thought TV would swiftly replace newspapers entirely. That didn’t happen and now it looks like the tides are turning again, with online news, usually affiliated with a print newspaper, often scooping radio and TV news services that are focused on rigid broadcast times.
What we’re moving toward, Sun-News editor Jim Lawitz said recently, is a new generation of “mojos,” or mobile journalists, who rarely or never see a traditional newsroom, spending entire careers out in the field, with laptops and other state-of-the-art equipment that will allow us all to file reports directly online, complete with audio, video and still photography. Doing, in short, what many of us are doing with our iPhones and friends right now.
There are elements of deja vu in all this for me. I started my career in my early teens, at a time when there was a renewed emphasis on local news and reporting in the field, sometimes with an emphasis on first-person experiences.
We went to great lengths then, to try to get the real story. George Plimpton trained and sometimes actually played with football and hockey teams to share with readers what life was like among professional athletes.
In my early 20s, I enrolled in two high schools, impersonating a 17-year-old, to compare life at experimental and traditional schools.
These days, as mojos, I suspect, we’d most likely skip the subterfuge and just get out there as close as possible to the action, to share the sights and sounds with you all in cyberspace.
Will there be room in this brave new world, for words, still my medium of choice?
I think so.
I pondered it all during an early autumn vacation in northern New Mexico.
It has been said that we live in the only state where light photographs true, but I’ve yet to see a still or moving picture that really captures the transcendent experience of rosy adobe against high desert country sky. You need words to even attempt it, and phrases and concepts like electric blue and lapis lazuli, and poetic comparisons: Santa Fe looks like the work of a giant potter, displaying his ancient art in the sun.
There are many other experiences — sensual and emotional and intellectual and spiritual — which, I realized, couldn’t be truly conveyed with any online technology currently known to man.
Sometimes, a picture isn’t worth a thousand words. Sometimes, nothing but words will do, and even if it takes thousands of well-chosen words, the investment is worth it.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org