Franklin Center - ICYMI: Technology can do more than ‘inform and engage’

Last week, President Obama gave the commencement address at Hampton University where he discussed new technology like the iPad, iTouch and others being a “distraction and diversion,” rather than a “tool of empowerment.”  Jason Stverak, President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a leading nonprofit journalism organization, released the below commentary on the numerous advantageous for news consumers in a media cycle that never sleeps.  This op-ed, which ran on the Daily Caller, touches on the how Americans who have access to more news on many different platforms will improve democracy by ensuring a better-informed and aware public.

Technology can do more than ‘inform and engage’
Daily Caller
Jason Stverak

During a commencement address at Hampton University, President Obama bemoaned increasing use of technology by Americans to stay entertained instead of “informed and engaged.”

He cited incredible inventions—iPad, iPod and Xbox—that he said have become ‘diversion’ rather than ‘a tool of empowerment.’ He discussed the problems with the “24/7 media environment” that “bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments.”

Valid points. But he didn’t highlight advantages for news consumers in a media cycle that never sleeps, and the many platforms now available to access news on the go. More importantly, he didn’t push the Hampton students and citizens all over America to use technology to become news producers themselves.

How Americans get news changed dramatically over the last decade. According to a March 2010 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the Internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news. The study also found that 92 percent of Americans rely on more than one news source every day. That reinforces other studies: Americans no longer rely on one media outlet for all their news.

Opportunity for Americans to get more news in many ways from a variety of sources can improve democracy by ensuring a better-informed and aware public. If a working mother with only 20 minutes a day to read her local paper or watch the nightly news has a BlackBerry or iPhone that feeds selected stories ranging from PTA bulletins to Supreme Court nominations in between carpool, meetings and soccer practice, she will be better informed.

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About the Franklin Center

Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity promotes social welfare and civil betterment by undertaking programs that promote journalism and the education of the public about corruption, incompetence, fraud, or taxpayer abuse by elected officials at all levels of government. Established as a 501 C3 in June of 2009, The Franklin Center is a nonpartisan organization that believes that new technology can advance the cause of transparency in government. The Franklin Center aims to educate, to advise and to train individuals and organizations from all backgrounds to become thorough, unbiased and responsible reporters well versed in new media techniques and journalistic integrity. For more information on the Franklin Center please visit