Plus ca change, plus c’est le ‘new media’

Poynter Institute librarian David Shedden has written an essay about the changes in media during his lifetime from 1968, when he watched the Walter Cronkite cover the presidential election on a black and white television, to this year when he caught “part of the YouTube/CNN Democratic presidential debate live on the CNN Web site.”

Shedden uses these reminscenes to draw readers into a new media timeline that beings in 1969 when the Arpanet and videotex debuted. Year-by-year he marches through the innovations that have brought us to where we are today, pausing occasionally at now-forgotten inflection points – such as in 1980, when the first newspapers went online through CompuServe, led by the Associated Press and The Columbus Dispatch.)

Shedden’s point is that new media really isnt new at all but rather a steady progress that happens to have accelerated just now — true enough, perhaps, but neither comforting nor useful if the trend line has hit what investors call the “hockey stick” point at which change occurs not gradually but exponentially.

Nevertheless the timeline is either a great review or a wonderful primer depending on your familiarity with the technological trends. Bookmark it and scan it whenever you need to catch your bearings.

Shedden also suggests that some things never change, notably the reader’s appetite for gossip. He writes:

“The audience for Poynter Online expanded significantly when Jim Romenesko joined the site. Editor Bill Mitchell invited Jim to become part of Poynter Online after reading about Jim’s “” site in The New York Times. In October 1999 Jim’s site moved to Poynter with the new name “Romenesko’s Medianews.” (The name was changed to “Romenesko” in 2003.) It quickly became one of the most visited journalism sites on the Web.”