First I must confess that I am a 65-year-old, gray-haired American white guy who worked in the newspaper business for 34 years before joining the academic community as a journalism professor and researcher. If you believe that identifies me as a technophobic curmudgeon who is stuck in the past and incapable of comprehending the minds of young people today, well—let’s just say for the sake of argument that you might be partially correct.
It’s true there are times when new technologies do frustrate and anger me, especially when they make me feel stupid. And I am occasionally perplexed by the mindsets of some journalism students, often in regard to newspapers and online news. But pigeonholing me, along with everyone else, based on age, gender, skin color, nationality and career, doesn’t define me. Generalities about groups of people may simplify marketing strategies and help some politicians get elected, but they don’t tell you much about individuals—or our behavior— especially in the expansive realm of new media.
To make my point, I’ve been actively involved in the digitization of newspapers and the development of online media and digital editions since the 1970’s. In my present role as program director for digital publishing at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, I work with students, journalists and media practitioners to exploit the potential of e-readers and other emerging digital publishing technologies. I make extensive use of computers, know my way around the Internet and Web, own an Apple iPhone, read books on an Amazon Kindle, and occasionally participate in blogs. I also enjoy reading the newsprint editions of The New York Times and Columbia Missourian every morning with breakfast and prefer interacting with friends and colleagues face-to-face or by phone rather than through Facebook or other online social networks.