(The Gutenberg Parenthesis) – its an idea that everything after Gutenberg and the printing press was an interruption to the ‘original’ form of communication, word-of-mouth.
In Megan Garber’s blog post ‘ The Gutenberg Parenthesis: Thomas Pettitt on parallels between the pre-print era and our own Internet age’ she quotes Thomas Pettitt, a professor at the University of South Denmark .‘We are going forward to the past’ he says. He argues that books because they were written down, became more valid and were considered more truthful. Pettitt continues to argue that people no longer believe everything that’s written down. No longer are books or print for that matter the medium of truth. The conversation doesn’t divulge into why this is, but Pettitt believes it has to do with the ‘overlapping forms of communication’
In some instances I agree. When information was first written down, it was a way to add validity to what had already been heavily discussed among the people. It wasn’t a matter or believing or not believing the written news. People were already in the know.
The skepticism we see today is tied to the printing press and spread of knowledge. For example, if a searing expose’ goes to print, people instinctively seem to question it. The instinct to question could be considered journalism, and that makes the death of journalism fall into a gray area.
While I agree there is nothing new under the sun and trends are reinvented and seep in and out of generations, Pettit seems to question the power of print and journalism today.
“…the formal press will need somehow to find a place in this chaos of communication, where you can’t decide the level, the status, the value of the message by the form of the message…the press, will need to find some other signals – it’s got to find a way through this”
My main issue is that print is tied in so closely with journalism. The argument of the death of print journalism is a well-documented decline; to link the death of print with the decline of journalism is problematic. I read the above as Pettitt saying the press, journalism, is in a state of doom because it’s not considered trustworthy and it can’t be controlled.
Journalism is evolving, especially with the popularity of social media. Not only is journalism evolving, but it has a further reach with the internet and how quickly information is able to be shared.
Broadcast journalism alone can lead to a citizen uprising. Journalism is powerful and people need news. News and journalism although it is changing, will never go away. To say that you can’t decide the value based on the form seems unfounded. The form absolutely can decide the value, especially if you are in tune with your audience.
With that said, word-of-mouth is ever-present in today’s society, and while it may be experiencing a ‘re-emergence’ it’s doing so hand-in-hand with journalism.