I grew up visiting my grandparents in Nebraska every summer. My grandpa would practically set his clock by the time the newspaper boy would drop the daily paper off in the mailbox every Sunday. I distinctly remember the fresh smell of ink rolling off the paper as he fanned open the edition and handed me the “funnies page.”
Years passed, and one day the delivery man dropped off my grandparents’ computer. It was the first time I realized that I could have all my many questions answered almost instantly, just at the touch of a button. This computer brought more than answers—it would completely morph the way I would soon completely my high school and college career, how I would communicate with family, friends, and my partner, and how I would do my job working as a journalist.
I never envisioned that this would be my career, an informant delivering information to the public every day in an ever-changing world. Where once I had to consult the family encyclopedia, all I need to do is ask Alexa, my home AI assistant, or my cellphone’s AI system, Siri, my question. I can find out what’s happening in the world, what CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, and other networks are discussing for the day, and what my local community news highlights are all without touching a button. I’m also subscribed to the New York Times, Medium, and other publications and every morning check my email to find a paper-free, digital copy every day.
With all these alleged advantages I’m using in my everyday life, am I putting myself out of a job? Am I becoming less curious because I don’t have to look so hard to find the answers to my questions? What if my choice to go paperless means no more smell of fresh ink on Sunday mornings forever? My belief is the answer is no. Because I’m so connected, I find myself having become a citizen of the world and a better journalist for it.
I’m able to reach out to sources for my stories through text message, phone call, or email. I can help my readers gain a global perspective by taking to Twitter and asking for experts to weigh in on a topic by utilizing a few hashtags. I can interact with media professionals paving the way for me while getting their advice on my style of writing all in minutes’ time.
The way we get our information is changing, without a doubt. For the first time in history, our world is literally at our fingertips. As we surge forward in change, remember that we arrived here by being curious and asking questions. As long as humanity doesn’t lose its need to have the next question answered, good journalism and the news media will never disappear from society’s horizons, whatever form it comes in.
Danielle Birzer is a recent graduate of Savannah State University. She is a graduate student studying journalism and public affairs at American University in Washington, D.C.