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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Newshound in a box - beware

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  • Hi, we’re from corporate, and we’re here to help you.
    Scarier words I’ve never heard, I thought to myself.
    Yessir, they said, we are allocating strategic resources for a rightsized alignment toward our true north of success, robust synergy and enhanced stakeholder value.
    That did not sound like a raise. How about hiring a couple of, you know, journalists?
    Better than that, they said. Introducing the Content-O-Droid 2014.
    I thought that was me. Sorry. Never mind. Do go on.
    This nimble little guy can extend your reach. It can free you from some of your more simple and mundane tasks.
    Those are the only ones I’m good at. So, can it fly and take pictures of, I don’t know, a forest fire or a football game?
    Uh, no.
    Can it read a city budget and tell me if my taxes are going up?
    Working on that, but no.
    Well, what can it do?
    The COD14 puts big data at your fingertips. We sent it to last night’s school board meeting. It recorded every word spoken, looking for common themes and cross-matching that with a social/cultural/political/media database.
    Really. How many follow-up questions did it ask?
    None. Why?
    That’s what journalists do, that’s why?
    Did. You mean did. Our research indicates that wastes a lot of your valuable time, time better spent tweeting and Facebooking and Instragraming and ...
    ... and most of those aren’t verbs. I fear this conversation is going in a sad direction. So let’s move on. What have you got from the school board?
    At this point, the droid chirped and spit out a piece of paper, like an old-fashioned ticker tape machine. Charming.
    The news story consisted of three words: “Education is good.”
    That, I asked, is the sum total of last night’s school board meeting? Seriously? Besides, I’m pretty sure that’s from “Animal House.”
    Really, said corporate? That’s awesome. The COD14 is also programmed to dial in random cultural references whenever possible. We have to leverage our baby boomer audience for ...
    ... for the benefit of all stakeholders, I know, I know. You mean our aging readers – and not the patronizing “audience,” please.
    OK, yes, aging readers. Served by our aging staff.
    Now wait a minute.
    Look, this is the wave of future. And like all waves of the future, it’s the biggest thing ever at this particular moment. And by the time it fades, or is superseded by something else, or is exposed as a fraud, or leads us over a cliff, I’ll be long gone. Surely, aging staff, you’ve been around long enough to understand the drill.
    Page 2 of 2 - I looked at the droid. It chirped, like a stray dog hoping for a home. Come on, little fella. Let’s find you a desk.
    Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox or @FoxEJC.

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