As I watched my first pot of coffee drop into the pot from our trusty (and now considered ancient) Bunn coffee maker at 0530 this morning, I started thinking back about 50 years — a half century ago — to a time when a young man who just turned 19 sat in an old Victorian apartment building on Jefferson Street in Roanoke, listing to his coffee pot perk.
He sat facing a window overlooking Elmwood Park to drink his first of several cups of coffee of the morning while reading copies of the New York Times, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Roanoke Times that arrived each outside his front door.
CNN provides news this morning as a background here in Floyd in 2016. No TV news of any kind back in 1966 on the three channels I could get in Roanoke via rabbit years on my 19-inch Sears TV.
As read the Roanoke paper and sipped coffee in 1996, I passed over a story about a local robbery. Didn’t have to read it on the Friday morning then. I wrote it late the night before in the newsroom of the Times as part of my job as a reporter.
Here, in 2016, I sit in front of two 29–inch computer monitors displaying news from many sources, including a national political news site I own and edit, a local site where this piece will be featured shortly, and Internet page displaying news from The Washington Post, The New York Times, Politico and others, including The Roanoke Times.
I will edit stories for Capitol Hill Blue, my political web site, write headlines, decide on which stories go where on the home page or other pages on the World Wide Web and add, if needed, additional information if found — from other news sites with, of course, attribution to the source.
On an average morning before the sun comes up, I will have scanned at least two dozen news sites to see who is covering the news from different perspectives and observations. I will read emails and text messages from another 20 or so contributors who provide information on the political and breaking news that have occurred around the country and the world overnight.
Back in 1996, morning news on TV came from short segments on The Today Show, which was struggling in 1996 to redefine itself after longtime host Dave Garroway retired five years earlier.
The primary local news didn’t come on until later and the sole network news show in those days was the evening news on NBC, CBS and ABC. Now, in 2016, networks have overnight news shows that run for several hours, usually repeating the earlier evening news and repeating many stories to fill the time. CNN used to run news around the clock but, along with MSNBC and Fox, now repeat prime time hosted shows that repeat interviews and comments from predetermined points of view.
Still, I felt as informed as possible each morning a half-century ago as I crawled into my Mustang to head into work. Now, I will have more information in my head, when I fire up my Wrangler this morning to head into Floyd to cover the final Circuit Court session of 2016.
Am I more informed? Good question. How about others around me? Where did they get their news of what has happened locally or around the country or the world? Did they listen to or watch the news from a traditional news source? Or did they read “fake news” from the proliferation of Internet sites that litter the World Wide Web?
Or do they simply accept what a “friend” posts on Facebook, Twitter or other Social Media as their “source” of news?
The answers to those questions should surprise, shock and scare the hell out of many.