Four insights on the history of the future of news

Eric Newton at Arizona State University

What does the future of news look like?  In a presentation to hundreds of students, professors and community participants last night in Phoenix, Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight Foundation, provided some insight.

In “A history of the future of news: What 1767 tells us about 2100,” Newton’s four main points were:

1.     The digital age is a new age of human communication. Before that, there were the ages of mass media, the age of language, and the visual age;

2.     Science fiction does a better job of predicting the future than the experts because their predictions are non-linear;

3.     Every American generation grows up with a different media form in ascendance, whether it is a pamphlet, newspaper, television, radio or the Internet;

4.     People in their 20s play key roles in inventing news media and always have.

Newton delivered his speech as a Hearst Visiting Professional, a program at Arizona State University which brings dozens of leading journalists, reporters, top newspaper editors, digital media innovators and TV news anchors to campus. The introduction was given by Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and vice provost of the university. The crowd covered the speech via Twitter, blogs and other multimedia. The Downtown Devil, an online publication dedicated to providing news to students from Arizona State University, wrote an article covering the talk, titled “Journalism expert encourages students to ‘think crazy’ when it comes to media innovation.” Leslie-Jean Thornton, a journalism professor at the Cronkite School created a Storify of Newton’s talk. The Cronkite School’s student event blog also covered the event as part of its “Cronkite’s conversations.” More than 130 students have left comments so far. Newton was also interviewed by Arizona PBS Horizon. The news segment aired on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. on channel eight in Arizona and is now available online.

Newton’s full speech is available online and the slides from his presentation are below.