A look at "The New, New, News: A Living Newspaper"

Feb 28, 2011

We know that how information is being communicated and paid for is quickly changing and that because of this the field of journalism is in a state of flux. But what does this exactly mean for today’s reporters and a public that wants to be informed?

A new play in the Seattle area explores how “instant information” through texting and tweeting is affecting the way news is covered and consumed here in the Northwest. It’s called “The New, New News…a Living Newspaper."

The play gets its name from a fictional online news organization called, “The New, New, News”. The reporters there cover how news is being reported online and through social media.

This is the vehicle the play uses to explore how some real life events were covered in the Seattle area such as the manhunt for Maurice Clemmons in 2009.

The 40-hour search for Clemmons was documented almost minute by minute over Twitter.

The Seattle Times chose to run the Twitter stream, live, on its homepage. The paper went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for taking the plunge into new media.

During the manhunt people were so informed about what the police were doing and where they were that some individuals actually turned out with their guns to “help” search for the suspect. The play illustrates how today’s speedy transition of information can possibly affect the outcome of a breaking news event.

Paul Mullin and Dawson Nichols co-wrote the play. Nichols is also the director.

The play also explores how long time print journalists are making their way in the world of blogs and virtual newsrooms that don’t have any firewalls separating them from the demands of advertisers.

They pull back the curtain of online journalism and raise a lot of interesting questions.

Mullin and Nichols say they don’t want people to take sides, new versus old, paper versus digital. But they do want us to be aware of the changes happening in journalism, and to question these changes so we can make the profession better. They say that if the public does not take these changes seriously, our democracy could eventually suffer.

The play runs through March 13th at North Seattle Community College.