A few Saturdays ago, I woke up to find my Facebook news feed blown up by statuses from "Roll Tide!" to "Geaux Tigers!" reminding me the Alabama versus LSU game was on that night. How did I find out Friday that my beloved Tarheels had beaten Michigan State? A Facebook friend had posted a link to photos of the game, which had been played on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Where did I look for controversial discourse regarding the Penn State scandal? In the comment section of my news feed, of course.
I wouldn't consider myself to be a technologically advanced person. I'm pretty old-fashioned, and I have yet to join the Twitter-sphere. But I have realized that it has become more frequent that I am learning about breaking news through social media.
The way we receive information has changed. News has become instant. We get it second-hand from friends through Facebook or Twitter. One glance at our smart phones can tell us the score of any game or match at any given time. We read 140 characters instead of 800-word articles. We scan tidbits of information quickly on the go and then move on with our lives.
As a child of the 21st century, I went to my dad for some perspective on sports coverage back in the day. Most games were broadcast on the radio; listeners could only imagine what everyone looked like. Today, HDTV allows us to see something as detailed as a droplet of sweat on a player's brow. Major tournaments like the ACC basketball tournament were never televised, so that all the tickets for the games would sell out. Now, TV contracts for NCAA basketball are in the millions and tickets are an afterthought.
Once, the only way to find out the result of a game was to read it in the paper the next morning, or stay up for the 11 p.m. news and listen to a three-minute sports report. Today we have access to 24-hour sports news, or we can follow games play-by-play on our phones.
I've been told that journalism is a dying industry; and for a writer that's a common concern. Well-written articles have lost their value. Anyone can blog, tweet or update his or her statu, and maybe hundreds of pairs of eyes will read it. It's a change that no one can ignore. But there's something to be said about talented writing. We can check our phones for box scores, but that won't tell us in detail about the buzzer-beating shot, the atmosphere of the stadium or the winning goal. Readers still enjoy pieces from great sports writers such as Rick Reilly. His is the kind of writing that captures something that can't be found within the parameters of a 5-by 2-inch screen. I still have hope that people need good writing; that they want to sit down and read a well-written story, not just glance at their phones as they move through their day. Now you can all do me a favor and tweet this column to the rest of the world.