Kurt Hildebrand

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September 4, 2012
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Online, time and information waits for no one

We've been hearing that technology was going to take out newspapers since the first crackling broadcast came over a radio in the early part of the 20th century.

Television should have killed ink and paper dead, but it didn't. In fact through the entire first nine decades of the 20th century, newspaper revenues continued to grow.

Then came what everyone assumed would be the real print killer, the Internet.

Heck, that was just the first wave, then came people getting information on their phones, then smart phones, then tablets.

Last week, stock in Hewlett Packard took a dive on the news that people aren't buying desktop computers any more.

There are lots of outfits that have suffered as a result of advances in communications technology, and not all of them businesses.

When the Douglas County Sheriff's Office was doing a child abduction exercise, Shannon Litz and I were invited to participate as members of "The Media."

Encouraged to be as obnoxious as possible, the officers onscene were unaware of the real threat we posed.

It wasn't sneaking into the command post or overhearing a suspect description. It was that I was posting every piece of information I got in real time on Twitter.

By the time the sheriff's office was able to muster an actual press conference, most of the information was already out.

Honestly, even the concept of reporters going somewhere and finding something out approaches obsolescence. Shannon and I told Investigator Nadine Chrzanowski that if a girl had actually gone missing, we would have found out from Facebook before either law enforcement or the media hit the actual scene.

A county official, who shall remain Lee Bonner, was actually updating his Facebook page with information from a briefing for the TRE fire as I was being told that the media couldn't be there.

I'm not really worried by the Supreme Court decision about who's allowed to buy political advertising, because there aren't many people I know who spend that long watching broadcast television.

I'm down to about an hour a week for the big networks, and that's almost too much. All those billions are pretty much wasted on anyone who has a DVR or is watching their favorite shows on the Internet. The people who are left habitually mute the TV or turn it off when the ads come on.

A friend called me on Friday morning and asked why politicians are exempt from the Do Not Call list. It turns out that the list is governed by the federal communications and trade commissions, whose jurisdiction does not extend into the political realm.

Which led to the discussion about whether people even have landlines. I can look around the newsroom, and the majority of my staff doesn't have a home phone connected by a wire. Another place where technology has zoomed past traditional practice.

Meanwhile the Postal Service just gave a huge break to a direct mailer claiming that newspapers have some sort of monopoly on delivering advertising to people's doors.

For me, that just means they're paying to put something else in my mailbox that I'll recycle.

When people find out I work for a newspaper, they tend to point out how much my business has been affected by the Internet.

My answer to them is simple.

"In Carson Valley, we are the Internet."

Thanks to the Internet more people are reading The Record-Courier than ever before. When we posted Scott Neuffer's story about Danny's closing, it got 1,354 reads. The reopening of Highway 395 at Pine View Estates got 655. Those are readers on a day when we don't have a print edition.

We're still figuring out how we're going to make money doing this, but people still want to read the news about Carson Valley, and we'll keep writing that news for as long as they do.

Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier, whose Web site was named best in its category by the Nevada Press Association three out of the last four years. Reach him at khildebrand@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 215.

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The Record Courier Updated Sep 4, 2012 03:57PM Published Sep 4, 2012 03:54PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.