I had CNN on in the background while eating breakfast on Sunday, and with no discernible volume I could only use what I could read on the screen to divine what it was they were talking about. Taken out of context, the headline on the bottom of the screen read “CRISIS IN THE EAST” which didn’t mean much by itself, but was made hilarious with the sub-headline “World Media Descends on Japan”. A crisis indeed.
A few minutes later, the new sub-headline read “Internet played a leading role.” I’m assuming they’re referring to people using Skype and email to contact their families, and not so much the Internet being the leading cause of the crisis in the first place. Context is everything. That headline had me a bit perplexed, though. I didn’t know what the talking head on the screen was babbling about at that moment, but I couldn’t help but wonder why the Internet itself was worthy of not only pointing out but blathering about ad nauseam. First we hear about how some loon in Egypt named his kid “Facebook” after Mubarak resigned, then we get the analytic timeline of which parts of Libya went dark, and now it’s news that we’re getting news from Japan via the tubes and pipes.
Maybe ten years ago that would have still been noteworthy, but I thought this kind of thing had become normalized. We’re graduating kids from high school who have never known a world without an online presence. To me, it’s as ridiculous as would be reporting that journalists are phoning in reports with their cell phones, that planes can deliver relief supplies, and that your television can bring you live video of what’s going on.
Is the role of the Internet in a crisis still newsworthy, or is this “news” just fluff and filler while the reporters wait for something interesting to happen?