Morse's telegraph changed things and, in 1854, the Associated Press was formed. In effect, Morse had conquered the dilemma of space and distance. News came in from all over, though much of it had little to do with the local needs of the various papers subscribing to these wire feeds. This is a precursor to what Henry Jenkins has called "churn" and other theorists have dubbed the "echo chamber": the recycling of opinion and reaction which is often repackaged as "news." This created what Postman called "impotent" news, for what was a bank robbery in New York City to a farmer in Des Moines? Indeed, our practical information-action ratio--those things upon which we can enact some control--seems diminished with the death of every local newspaper. We can offer a snarky comment on the latest celebrity news splashed across the MSN interface, or lament that a number of journalists were shot in Paris, but that's about it.
Modern communication theory seems filled with such binaries:
- informational impotence/practical utility