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Print or not to print – that is the real question

The true power of the press, in my opinion, is not whether media outlets slant the news in favor of one opinion or another – consumers are way to crafty for that. The true power comes in the simple decisions that we make every day about what is important and what is not.

There has been a running theme that the day of journalists may be over. The argument is that people have access to so much information, people can set their own agendas. The need for a filter is largely unnecessary – everybody can determine what's on their own, personalized front page. And that is true to a certain degree – you can decide if you want FCW or the Washington Post or AP to top your customized news sites. Furthermore, you can decide what categories within different organizations are important to you. (Shockingly enough, not everybody would select government IT news.)

But my sense is that there still needs to be a filter. People still want somebody they can trust to tell them what is important… somebody who spends their time focusing on these issues who can make a determination that this issue is important… and this one isn't.

I'm a big fan of sites that round-up news. I have posted from Slate.com's Today's Papers, which reviews what is on the front pages of the five big papers: the NYT, WP, WSJ, USAToday, and LAT. It is one of the first things that I read each morning. (They also have a similar round-up for magazines, which they don't make as accessible but which is equally enjoyable.) We have tried to do that to a degree with our FCW.com Download Week in Review each week, which can be found on page three of the magazine or on FCW.com Download's Week in Review. There, we lead with the buzz of the week – what was the headliner in the past week – and then summarize what happened last week in government technology. We need to do a better job of highlighting that – I have started including it in the Monday e-mail newsletters, for example – and we will find a better place for it on the Web site so it isn't buried.

I started out this post wanting to write about a specific case where there were questions about what we should print – people who just thought we made the wrong decision. It is a story about radio frequency ID tags that raised some concerns... but given the length of this, let me save that for part two of this post… coming soon.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Sep 23, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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