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Sustainability of future news devices

Adriene Hill Sep 28, 2010

Sustainability of future news devices

Adriene Hill Sep 28, 2010

Read Adriene’s first story in this two-part series.


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: It’s a new age of news delivery, we know that. Blackberry’s unveiled a tablet style device to compete with Apple’s iPad. More smartphone applications can send bulletins as they happen. But how does the future of how we get our news factor into the environment?

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, here’s Adrienne Hill.

ADRIENE HILL: Maybe you remember the scene from the movie “Minority Report.” Tom Cruise’s character is on the run….

“MINORITY REPORT:” He’s been identified on the metro. The train makes two stops in each direction. Send units to each location.

On the train, another passenger is reading a newspaper. The headline flickers, changes, then flashes with Breaking News of the manhunt. That, my friends, is the future of news delivery, at least according to Don Carli from the Institute for Sustainable Communication.

DON CARLI: I think that the technologies for print and digital media are going to converge.

He says the new devices will be like science fiction come to life.

CARLI: They’ll be paper-like in many ways. They’ll be able to be rolled up, perhaps at some point even folded. They will have wireless connections.

And he says, they’ll be better for the environment — less energy and resource intense than the electronic devices we use today. Other analysts guess solar powered cell phones will provide our news. Or ultra-efficient tablet devices that consumers don’t have to charge all the time. Whatever the device, the way we get our news will have to incorporate things like energy efficiency and recyclability up front.

But, these days, news organizations and journalists are too busy worrying about their jobs to consider this future.

DANA CHINN: I think the news industry is sort of thinking the environment is a secondary priority right now. It’s not, right now, it’s really about what is the content that we’re producing and who’s reading it.

Dana Chinn is a professor at USC’s journalism school. As she talks about the future of news — leaner, meaner, more focused on audience — it’s easy to hear how it might be an environmental plus.

CHINN: It’ll be smaller editions. No need to waste newsprint on everything that people just aren’t reading.

More focus means fewer resources in — like paper, energy and reporters. Which makes me think it’s probably time to get back to work.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

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