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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Question: What is the state of journalism today?

Alan Weisman: Journalism is in the critical state these days. It started over a decade ago with newspapers being absorbed by corporations. They used to be family-run or journalist-run and then they became line-items in corporations who, as they further consolidated, treated these thing as items that either were bringing profits or bringing loses. To the economize they start to cutting back on staff, particularly say when one corporation ends up owning several media outlets, like they almost like Los Angles Times and The Chicago Tribune or they own a bunch of TV stations and some executive who knows nothing about journalism, begins to say, “How come we need all these different correspondents out there, that’s just redundancy, let’s cut down on that.” Well as a result of that, we lost a lot of coverage in the world, and then, to make the matters worse, a very useful and potentially wonderful medium called the Internet showed up, and people started reading their news much more so on the Internet. I read my news on the Internet, because I travel so much. And the average age of a person, picking up a newspaper is over 55 now in the United States. Well, the problem is it those newspapers, who have always had reporters out there. So, when you read the news digested by Google or digested by Yahoo. They’re just getting their content from a whole lot of other places, but those whole lot of other places are going broke, because the advertisers are all going in to Google and Yahoo. The Google and Yahoo do not send correspondents in the field, I assure you. I recently spoke at Microsoft and I had this discussion with them, suggesting that these big media companies, big internet companies that now are controlling information, if they really care about the fate of the globe that they are serving, they are going to somehow enter in a profit-sharing arrangement with newspapers or with local TV or radio, to help us get the number of correspondents we need out there to let us know what is going on.





Alan Weisman: What's ailing...

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