The Internet: information distributor or dumpsite?
Information distribution is a tricky thing, and the Internet has only complicated matters. There’s tons of information floating around in cyberspace, but very little of it actually makes its way to people – especially at UAF.
Win or lose, The Sun Star gets at least one press release about almost every athletic event. But we rarely hear about non-athletic competitions unless we know someone competing in them. I often find out about really cool things well after they happen – like the fact that a couple of UAF teams did really well at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s spelling bee or that UAF students won a micro-mouse competition.
Information distribution also varies widely among different units at the University. The College of Liberal Arts doesn’t seem to have a student list (although individual departments do), but I’ve heard that the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences does a great job about notifying their students about opportunities and events. Facebook is another dilemma. Lots of departments have Facebook pages, but most of them aren’t updated often enough to maintain a presence on a social networking site that revolves around immediacy.
I understand why controversial things aren’t publicized. It is our job to track those things down and write about them so that students know what is going on. My world revolves around information, so I spend a lot of time searching out story ideas. I read agendas and minutes, peruse the Corner Stone and Statewide Voice and check everywhere I know of to find information. Still, there’s a lot I miss.
I really don’t understand why I got multiple e-mails about the presidential search on Sunday (listing the candidates or notifying staff members of a live-stream of the forums on Monday), but none of them were to the university’s student list-serve. I also don’t understand why ASUAF doesn’t send out press releases when they accomplish something. We have to dig just as hard to write about their successes as their failures.
I don’t blame that on the Internet so much as its users.
Last week, former editor Kortnie Westfall tweeted, “what did editors do before the advent of Google?? Know this stuff off the top of their heads, I guess.” I absolutely agree. I turn to Google (and the university’s electronic directory) multiple times a day to spell-check names or find a fact – like whether or not the University of Alaska has ever had a female president. (Not among the official 13 presidents, but a woman has filled the role on a temporary basis.)
The Internet has definitely made my job easier. It’s also made it more frustrating. I only know I’m missing stories because I eventually find them on maze of tubes that connect Fairbanks to the world.