WKU: Promoting Agriculture Misconceptions Daily

Normally, I would hold my tongue.
   
Normally, I would cut them some slack, laugh it off, and go on with life pretending that whoever it was had not just made some ridiculous agriculture illiterate mistake.
  
This is an exception. 
   
When I walked into the Tower Food Court at Western Kentucky University last night, I was greeted by a cartoon pig sporting a band-aid.  This jovial porker was on a large sign at the door of the food court to encourage me to wash my hands and take other steps to prevent getting the flu.
Taken with my blackberry and touched up on Photoshop.  I'll try to get a better picture soon.

Taken with my blackberry and touched up on Photoshop. I'll try to get a better picture soon.

Did it say “swine flu?” No.

Did it imply “swine flu?” Yes.

At a time when the agriculture industry is suffering from the unnecessary hysteria that is the H1N1 influenza, you would expect that our institutions of higher education would be promoting the truth about the situation. 

Sadly, the folks at Western didn’t take the time to watch the news, check the facts, or (heaven forbid) talk to anyone in the agriculture department before designing these ridiculous signs.

Since this start of the ongoing drama that is H1N1, I have heard more intelligent people sound like idiots.

        

For example, sitting behind student journalists (who I previously perceived to be well informed) in my Media and Society class, I learned this:

“You can only get swine flu if you are around pigs or farms.” – Student 1

“That’s good, there’s only like 30 farmers in Kentucky.” – Student 2

“No, there’s more than 30 farmers, you have to count racehorses, they have farmers.” – Student 1

“That’s true, so like 100 people.  So why is it a big deal? Are there more farmers other places?” – Student 2

And we wonder why the American people aren’t eating pork? 

If the students at one of the most celebrated public journalism schools in the country don’t care enough to get the facts then how can we expect the average consumer to?

The fact is that we can’t.  As agriculturalists, it is our responsibility to publicize the truth about agriculture so often that the general public can’t help but get a dose of reality.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has done a stellar job of this since the outbreak of H1N1.

The NPPC has continuously released information to consumers and the media explaining the safety of American pork products.  Pork producers across the country are appearing on news broadcasts, being interviewed in newspapers, and speaking to health conscious audiences.

Even more kudos to the NPPC for utilizing social media to publicize the truth.  Every time I saw @NPPC tweet a new press release I immediately retweeted it.  Each time I viewed the #swineflu trending topic on Twitter, I saw at least one tweet quoting an NPPC release.

They’ve even built an entirely seperate website to spread H1N1 facts and advertised this site in full page ad in today’s issue of USA Today.

While they are doing a stellar job, we cannot expect the NPPC to combat these misconceptions alone.  The entire agriculture industry must do their job to spread the truth about H1N1. 

You don’t have to write an article, blog or tweet about it.  Just explaining the truth to confused classmates, sharing information with school administrators, writing letters to the editor in newspapers that are still using the thrill seeking word “swine flu” can make a major impact.

Or, you can take a more creative approach: write a song about it and post it on YouTube.

Whatever your method of choice, it is up to the agriculture industry to spread the truth about H1N1.  Obviously, our institutions of higher education are not.

Cargill made sure I didn’t get the PETA treatment

In April, my meat science class partnered with the beef production class at Western Kentucky University, loaded 40 college students on a charter bus, and headed west. 

Dr. Gordon Jones, my meats professor and advisor, knows someone everywhere who has done something important in agriculture.  He called in a few favors and lined up tours at some of the most secure meat packing plants in the country.  

Add in visits to feedlots, farms, universities, and the USDA Meat Animal Research Center and you’ve got a pretty great taste of the beef industry in only 4 days time!

Here’s an overview of the trip and its impact on students.

From a journalism standpoint: I knew that each packing plant I entered was suspicious of me. 

Who can blame them?  After the likes of PETA and HSUS sent undercover reporters into plants to slander the meat industry, most plants adopted “confidentiality policies.”

While my classmates were just signing their copies, I was reading the fine print, trying to cover all the bases and make sure I could include their facility in my journalism class projects.

Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, MO, had the most strict confidentiality policy of anywhere we visited.  Their policy only allows me to say that I toured the facility.  I cannot voice an opinion or divulge any information about anything related to their company.

Cargill Meat Solutions in Schuyler, NE, gave me the benefit of the doubt.  Plant manager, Vaughn Bloom, waived the confidentiality policy in regard to my video project, saying:

“Tell the world what you saw here, its time to get the truth out there. Just don’t put my ugly face on your video!”

The chance to work with someone like Mr. Bloom was very reassuring for me.  It is nice to know that there are people in the industry who are willing to cooperate with an ag journalist and share their passion for telling agriculture’s story to the general public.

Most importantly, he believed me when I told him I wasn’t with PETA!

Even though Mr. Bloom waived the confidentiality policy, I was still not permitted to photograph or film inside the facility because I was a student journalist.  This is a Cargill policy across the board, though they provide photographs on their website that journalists can use. 

I can’t blame them; a student journalist is unaffiliated, there’s no telling what they’ll write or where it will be published.  Just the fact that I am allowed to write about the plant is more than enough permission for what I’m doing.

This trip was so influential to me that I know I’ll write about it again in later blog posts. For now though, I’m just proud that I was able to youtube something that tells the real story about the meat industry.

When I Grow Up…I want to stick up for Agriculture!

It was the subject of at least one essay every year of grade school: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Like any child, each year I had a different answer.  One year it was hog farmer the next it was country singer and still the next it was author.  Though my career goals changed, I always knew that I would spend my life sharing what I loved with the world.

What did I love?  Three simple things: agriculture, writing, and living in the country.

Honoring my parents at the 2008 KY State FFA Convention.

Honoring my parents at the 2008 KY State FFA Convention before I retired from state office.

Though it took years of gradeshool essays, I have finally realized that the best way to share all three of these things in my chosen career is probably not at the Grand Ole Opry but as an agriculture journalist.

This is not the first time I’ve blogged about my career goals.  In this post, however, I’m going to give credit where credit is due. 

Take a look at my “About me” page and you’ll see that I’ve been dedicated to animal agriculture my whole life.  This was only possible because I was blessed with the parents who never let me say never. (Literally, my mom didn’t allow us to say the word can’t when we were growing up!) 
 
My parents understood the importance of 4-H, FFA, and youth livestock programs and allowed me to miss so much school to learn things that couldn’t be taught in a classroom. 
  
My closest friends at the 2009 Block & Bridle banquet.

My "fan club" at the 2009 Block & Bridle banquet.

When I got to college, my Block and Bridle friends became my #1 cheerleaders!

It was no suprise that they were behind me when I began building my website. 

They were my first “blog fans” and the ones who celebrated with me when my story was featured on Ag Wired.  Most importantly, they helped me find my niche in the ag journalism world: expanding agriculture news online. 

I know, you think I sound like a twitter-happy, cookie cutter journalism student. 

Unlike mainstream news coverage, however, agriculture news has a lot of catching up to do in the online department.

In my mind, agriculture literacy is the biggest issue facing the industry today.  How can we ever expect the average consumer to understand modern farming practices if we don’t put the information out there?

Furthermore, its not enough to put agriculture news online, we have to connect it with the general public.  Sponsor some Google links, add an RSS feed, open a Twitter account – whatever it takes!   What’s the worst that could happen?

Its time for conventional agriculture to stick up for itself, I just hope I can be there to help.

Just Plain Celeste, the Ag Journalist

 Growing up, I had two groups of friends: show friends and school friends.
My 2006 KY 4-H State Livestock Judging Team

My 2006 KY 4-H State Livestock Judging Team

 
My show friends were the kids I had spent my summers with since I was nine years-old.  They were my livestock judging teammates and livestock showing rivals. 
  
We shared everything: our food, our families, and our love for the livestock industry.  Among these people I found my biggest supporters, my college roommates, and friends that time and distance can’t separate.
 
My high school girlfriends, Spring Break 2007

My high school girlfriends, Spring Break 2007

 My school friends were the ones I hung out with the rest of the year.  In our small town, everyone went to the same school from 1st grade on so we all knew way too much about each other. 

These people starred in so many fond memories: elementary school plays, middle school dances, sleepovers, pool parties, and soccer games.

Since fourth grade, I have been keeping these two groups separated.

Living in these two very different worlds created an identity crisis for me.  I had to learn when to be “farm Celeste” and when to be “school Celeste.”   I hated separating the people and parts of myself that I loved the most, but I didn’t know how else to deal with it.

My situation as both a journalism and an animal science major is very similar to my friend scenario growing up.

In the past, I would have tried to separate my journalism life and my animal science life.  My experiences with my friends, however, has taught me how painful that can be, and I am determined to do whatever I can to avoid the same outcome. 

My solution: combine my passions and chase them as one dream.

 That’s why I incorporate agriculture into nearly every post on this blog, even if the prompt has nothing to do with it.  I’ve spent my whole life separating the things and people that were so dear to me, I don’t want to do that forever!

 My goal is to develop my online presence and gain respect for my agriculture journalism work.  Hopefully, my audience will reach a point where they no longer categorize me, but instead see me as just plain Celeste. 

I think all good journalists want that same treatment.  Think about it, if you love a person’s work then why do you care if it was published in a blog or in the Sunday print edition?  Either way its their work, its their talent, its worth respecting. 

Journalists need to quit wasting time trying to settle on a job title and do what they were meant to do: write!

One of my favorite ag journalists is Amanda Nolz, a journalism student and livestock lover who (among other things) works with BEEF Magazine.  I have no idea what her specific job title is, nor do I care!  All I’m concerned with is seeing her by line on my RSS feed, whether its in her personal blog or Beef Daily, because I know that there’s good content to follow.

When people ask what my career goal is now, I tell them that I want to be an online agriculture journalist.  Their next question is always, “What will you do?”  I look them in the eye, smile and say, “Whatever needs doing!”

Whether that means blogging, podcasts, videos, or hard news writing, I don’t care.  I’ve spent too long separating my passions, its time to combine them all and see what happens.

Yep, I found an internship on Twitter

My boyfriend and my laptop are in a constant competition for my attention.  Usually, my boyfriend loses. 

This semester, I dove head first into the world of online journalism.  Being a chronic overachiever, I checked out every website that my Jou 232 teacher suggested and put hours of extra effort into building my online presence.

Did I know what I was doing? Nope! Consequently, I didn’t set my expectations too high.  My only hope was that my blind leap into social media and online journalism would be of some benefit to myself or others. 

I never could have imagined just how beneficial it would be.

I started with what seemed like the newest craze: Twitter. 

Honestly, I hated twitter for the first week I had an account.  I literally forced myself to “tweet,” hoping that I would come to like the set up.  As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am a wordy person.  Twitter’s 140 character limit took some getting used to but I’ve adjusted.

I quickly fell in love with tweeting when I discovered WeFollow.  This site is basically a phonebook for twitter.  It lets you register under the “tags” that you feel best identify with your twitter usage and browse other users who share your interests. 

WeFollow helped me find agriculture news sites from across the country and I began following them and replying to their tweets.  Before I knew it, I had people from all over the agriculture world following me, replying to my tweets, and reading my blog. 

That’s when inspiration struck.  I needed an internship for the summer, why not see if anyone on twitter knows of any available?  Without expecting much of anything, I wrote:

“Searching for paid summer internship/job related to #farm, #agriculture, #journalism, #news-writing. Any suggestions welcome!”

One of my followers(@rosamyst), who works in animal welfare/animal agriculture initiative communications at Michigan State, sent me a message asking for a copy of my resume.  Two weeks, 4 emails, and one phone call later and I had an internship at Michigan State working in my dream field!

Obviously, not everyone has this type of twitter experience.  For both agriculture and journalism students, however, stories like this one should encourage them to build their online presence.  No matter what your field or interest, it never hurts to network and twitter is just a new way to do that.

I feel like networking is the main role that social media will play in journalism.  The more people you know, the more you’re exposed to, the more you learn.  This mentality is the basis of the web, connecting people and information.

I won’t pretend that I have adopted every venue of social media, after all, I do have a life offline and as previously stated, an anti-twitter boyfriend.  Even he will admit, though, that sometimes my overachieving tendencies do pay off.

Hurting American farmers isn’t enough, COOL takes a stab at Canada’s too

In theory, it was a great idea: print the country of origin on all meat products and perishable agricultural commodities.  They even came up with a catchy acronym: COOL (Country of Origin Labeling).  Consumer lobbyists were happy, politicians were happy, and the warnings of the agriculture community were ignored.xbredpiglet

In execution, it became a nightmare.

The adverse affects that farmers warned of became a reality.  The aftermath of COOL has changed the beef and pork industries in the United States and, consequently, devestated those industries in Canada.

Before COOL, American producers would purchase live animals from Canada and commingle (mix) them with American livestock.  Since there is no permanent tracking system of where these livestock originated, they would not be eligible to enter the food chain under COOL regulation.

In order to cut their losses, US farmers drastically cut back on their purchase of Canadian livestock as they could more effectively market their “product of the United States” animals. 

According to AHN, the US producers imports of Canadian pigs have dropped to unprecidented lows. 

“Because of COOL live hog exports had gone down 43 percent to 1.3 million. Given the continuous decline, the [Canadian Pork] council estimates total hog exports for 2009 will decrease to 5.6 million from 9.3 million in 2008.”

Since COOL legislation went into effect, the Canadian Pork Council has again petitioned their government to challenge the legislation before the World Trade Organization.  They have little hope that their industry will recover without drastic measures, such as the repealing of COOL or the implementation of a permanent livestock identification system in the United States.

“Ultimately it will kill our producers in Canada… It is protectionism at its worst – without understanding what the ramifications are,” said Canadian Pork Council chairman, Jurgen Preugschas.

Unfortunately, the red tape of politics will take time to untangle, and time is something Canadian beef and pork producers don’t have to spare.  This sense of urgency has resulted in strong language from the Canadian Cattleman’s Association President, Brad Wilderman, who stated on February 24, 2009:

“This latest protectionist action makes it very clear that Canada must use every tool to challenge actions and policies that harm the Canadian industry.”

I feel like AHN did a wonderful job of covering this story and presenting the facts in manner that was easy for all audiences to understand.  While there are dozens of articles written by United States news organizations about the effects of COOL, it is interesting to see one from a Canadian news group. 

Sadly, this article only confirms what American agriculture analysts had suspected: Country of Origin Labeling isn’t so “cool” after all.

The only way to make money with a newspaper is to not have a newspaper.

Every farm kid can recite an old adage their parents drilled into them from an early age.  For me, some of my dad’s clever words come to mind first, “The only way to make money raising pigs is to not raise pigs.”

This paradoxical statement refers to the fact that our family farm is more hobby than business.  Today, it is nearly impossible for a hog farm to stay afloat in today’s industry unless it produces thousands of pigs and all its own feed each year.  Essentially, get big or get out. 

For agriculturalists, this mentality is reality.  They have never known the stable lifestyle that the rest of society leads so they prepare for the worst and enjoy the best. 

 They are nothing like the newspaper industry.

Today’s newspapers are facing tough times.  Many papers are shutting down the presses after years of circulation and media analysts seem shocked that the long expected hard times have finally hit the industry.  Like small farms, papers have fallen victim to the “go big or get out” curse, however, they seem to have never realized it would really happen.

I used to give journalists more credit than that.  After reading Jack Shafer’s Slate article “Democracy’s Cheat Sheet,”  I have learned that apparently the newspaper industry is exempt from the natural phenomena of capitalism and social growth and should be pitied for their plight.

Top it all off, apparently society thinks that newspapers are essential to the preservation of democracy.

Now I won’t speak for all Americans, but in my mind, the newspaper has no effect on democracy.  Don’t get me wrong, the two work together quite nicely, but you can easily have one without the other!

I’ll grant, big companies who own multiple news venues can control/censor the reporting but if these corporations are not owned by the government then what can you do about it?  Isn’t that what we’re asking for in our free market economy?

Mr. Shafer seems to conclude that newspapers should purposely stay small and risk financial ruin before they face the pressures of big business and propaganda of large news corporations.

I may not be a media analyst or a column writer for Slate, however, I do know a thing or two about the real world.  I know that you evaluate the risks before you get into something, and you prepare yourself to fail.  In my opinion, all the varied issues Shafer discussed are nothing compared to the fact that newspapers do not recognize failure as an option. 

Shafer is not alone in this doomsday view of journalism.  I am constantly reading retweets and blogposts of fellow journalism students who are as frustrated as I am by their elders in the industry.  These are so frequent that I even found one this morning when I logged on my twitter account titled: “Stop exaggerating: journalism is not dying. It’s changing.” 

Shouldn’t today’s journalists have planned for a change in the industry?  Did they really think that they would do the same exact task the same exact way their entire career?  Are today’s journalists really living in this never changing dream world? 

Newspapers could learn a thing or two from agriculture. 

On an individual level, journalists need to evaluate risks and accept change.  Most importantly, the entire industry needs to accept the fact that you do what you do because you love it, not because society is behind you. 

If social support was required, America wouldn’t have any farmers.  If journalists don’t move past the need for society’s endorsement, then America won’t have any newspapers either.

WKU’s “altercation” illustrates danger of crowdsourcing

Journalism is an industry that doesn’t just strive for perfection, it insists upon it.  Sources are always verified, facts are double checked, and punctuation is perfect.  To me, the inclusion of crowdsourcing will make it harder for journalists to maintain this level of perfection.

What better example of crowdsourcing gone wrong than the infamous “altercation” that occurred on the campus of Western Kentucky University in the fall of 2008?

Herald photo (Brian Anslem): Officer subdues a female student who refuses to cooperate.

Herald photo (Brian Anslem): Officer subdues a female WKU student who refused to cooperate with emergency procedures.

On October 22, 2008 at 12:47 a.m. , WKU sent text messages to students, via the university’s emergency notification system, that read: “There is a situation on the south campus involving guns. Police are on the scene. Everyone should stay clear of the area until further notice.” 

By 12:52 a.m., students began receiving a follow up message: “There is a report that shots have been fired at or around PFT. Please stay away, and stay indoors until further notice.” 

Within minutes, emergency sirens were ringing across campus and faculty members began moving students into lock down.

When the sirens began sounding, my friends and I happened to be near our vehicles so instead of locking down, we left campus.  This decision would make my outlook on the entire day’s events very different from that of the students still on campus.

While driving we turned on local radio coverage of the situation.  Calls were coming in from students, faculty, and bystanders.  Everyone thought that they alone knew what was going on and wanted their story to be on the air.  The only problem was that no one knew what was really happening on campus. 

Since the WKU administration was not releasing any information, the local radio and television stations began running these unconfirmed stories as fact. 

By the time I reached a television these rumors had hit national news.  CNN and FOX News were covering the story as it unfolded, although neither had been given anymore information from WKU administration than the students had. 

I watched in horror,  thinking that my campus had been the site of a well planned attack by armed gunmen. 

At 3:07 p.m., lock down was lifted and WKU held a press conference to explain what really happened.  In all actuality, no shots had ever been fired.  The university had attempted to contain the reports of “an individual with a weapon” at south campus by notifying students to stay away, but were confused by the media coverage into thinking that there was a threat at main campus as well. 

The incident that had incited fear in the WKU student body, Bowling Green community, and viewers of various news media across the country was nothing more than an “altercation“. 

The entire nation was told a story of complete falsities and confusion, all because the media didn’t stop to confirm reports.

What happened at Western should serve as a warning to all media outlets that use crowdsourcing to build stories as they happen.  WKU was lucky, there wasn’t a shooting, no one was hurt.  Will we be that lucky the next time?

Maybe Obama should keep his feet firmly on the ground and out of his mouth.

I don’t do well with people who make fun of the mentally and physically disabled.  Beyond the fact that it is just plain cruel, I know the toll that these prejudices take on their victims. 

Anna competing at the 2008 State Marching Band Competition.

Anna's liver disease doesn't stop her from competing in numerous band competitions each fall.

 My little sister, Anna, was born with a rare liver disease that, among other physical side effects, makes her significantly smaller than other children her age.  I grew up seeing how much it hurt her to be taunted by her classmates and how badly she wanted to be “just like everyone else.”

Anna’s physical abilities have not limited the things she has been able to accomplish in her 14 years.  She is a member of the high school marching band, despite being at least a foot shorter than all the other members.  Since joining the band, I’ve watched her make friendships with so many people who now see her just like I do: as a little girl with a shockingly huge personality. 

What band has done for my sister, the Special Olympics have done for millions of other people who are living life as what society deems “disabled.”  On top of that, they’re good at what they do! Marathon runner and former Special Olympics athlete Billy Quick once said,“You might be able to out-read me, but I can out-run you!” 

To most people, making fun of Special Olympians would seem cruel.  Obviously, President Barack Obama is not one of those people.

During his March 19, 2009 appearance on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” President Barack Obama joked that his bowling skills were only good in the Special Olympics.  Leno brought up Obama’s bowling skills by asking if the White House alley had been “burned and closed down.”  This stemmed from Obama’s bowling a 37 while on the campaign trail, in an effort to connect with blue collar voters. 

The New York Times published the entire transcript of the broadcast. 

MR. OBAMA: No, no. I have been practicing all –- (laughter.)

MR. LENO: Really? Really?

MR. OBAMA: I bowled a 129. (Laughter and applause.)

MR. LENO: No, that’s very good. Yes. That’s very good, Mr. President.

MR. OBAMA: It’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something. (Laughter.)

Before the show even aired, Obama’s team was retracting the comment.  From Air Force One, Obama apologized via telephone to chairman of the Special Olympics, Tim Shriver.  The statement Shriver released on behalf of the Special Olympics maintains that Obama was heartfelt in his apology, however, the hurt and insult felt by the Special Olympics community is obvious from his words.

Only an organization like the Special Olympics can manage to turn this terrible situation into an inspiring opportunity to further their cause.   The final paragraph of their statement read:

“Finally, we invite the President to take the lead and consider hiring a Special Olympics athlete to work in the White House.  In so doing, he could help end misperceptions about the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities, and demonstrate their dignity and value to the world.” 

 Not that this blunder isn’t news worthy enough, but many prominent figures are now asking an even more important question: why is the President of the United States appearing on late night talk shows to begin with? 

President Obama defended his appearance saying it is not keeping him from pressing matters.  He went on to say that he can do more than one thing at a time and is working on a host of issues, including climate change and health care reform.  This defense has done little to quiet the criticism.

“It’s not an accident that no sitting president has ever done a show like this,”  said media analyst Steve Adubato in a FOX News article.

Even the infamous “Coach K ” of Duke University is doubting the president’s latest actions, namely the release of his NCAA Tournament bracket on an ESPN segment called “Barackatology“. 

“As much as I respect what he’s doing,” Krzyzewski said, “The economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets.”

To top it all off, President Obama is set to do his longest interview since taking office today with 60 Minutes’ correspondant Steve Kroft.  The interview will air on Sunday, March 22 at 7 p.m. ET.  We can only hope that our president keeps his feet firmly on the ground and out of his mouth.

When I was your age we read the newspaper…on actual paper!

You know the cliche all too well.  That dreaded “When I was your age” line that always led to your parents or grandparents rambling about the dark ages they were raised in, without modern conveniences like cell phones, laptops or microwaves. 

Admit it, you hate those stories!  You swear to yourself that when you’re 40+ you’ll never subject people to those ridiculous tales.  Ironically, you probably won’t have to wait until then to prove yourself wrong.

Last week, I told my 15 year old sister, “When I was your age, we IM’d (instant messaged) each other.  I used to spend hours online at night talking to my friends on msn messenger.”  She responded with a blank stare and a four word answer, “Oh…we text now.”

There are only 5 years between us but it seems like my sister and I grew up in different times.  I started texting in college, she was a fluent in “chat lingo” in middle school.  I remember photocopying articles from magazines to use for research, she downloads the web versions.   I used to bring my disc-man and CD collection on every family road trip, her ipod never leaves her purse.

For today’s teenagers, print newspapers are purely nostalgic.  Their lives have been so digital that they look at print news the same way I look at cassette tapes: little more than a vague childhood memory.

As journalists we must learn to make online users, such as these teens, read the newspaper somewhere other than on paper.

RSS seems to be the most logical news source for today’s tech savvy teens.  These kids are accustomed to personalization and ease of access; RSS is centered on those concepts.  Since it is easily accessed from their laptops and cellphones, I expect that while they finish high school, college, and move into the work force, RSS will likely be a natural part of their lives.

Then there’s the world of pod casting.  The major drawback of podcasts is that they require a desktop or laptop computer because they are frequently downloaded to devices that are not web enabled.  Obviously, that’s changing.  The iPhone opened our eyes to the reality of carrying unlimited technology in your pocket.  Since then more and more cellphones, mp3 players, and other mobile web enabled devices become more affordable for the average consumer.  I expect podcasts to gain more popularity as Santa Claus starts bringing more web enabled ipods, mp3 players, etc…

So what happens when future technology surpasses 2009’s cutting edge users?

I can hardly fathom a day when news is delivered in a more user friendly way than it already is through RSS: free, personalized, and immediate.  No matter how inconceivable, logic tells us that technology will continue to develop at its current exponential rate. 

With such a quick turn over of technology, I expect that all users will reach a point where they, as individuals, settle for their favorite method of news delivery, whether print newspaper, podcast, or broadcast news.  Sure, new methods will be released and the tech savvy will take advantage of them but people reach a point where they like what they are familiar with.

I can’t begin to imagine how people will get their news 10-15 years from now.  By then we’ll have a new generation of teens to torture with our “When I was your age we read the newspaper…on actual paper” stories.