I don't think there is any question that Digital Nation is a work of journalism. Even when looking at the basic tenets of traditional news, Digital Nation stands up to these criteria.
- There is impact. The world is changing to a much more digital, media-centered, technological reality. This is no passing phase or a simple fad. This program simply asks what, if any, are the consequences of that?
- There is immediacy. In terms of historical eras, this digital era is in its infancy. Exactly what direction is taken and how the course is navigated is yet to be determined. This makes the timing of the question incredibly relevant.
- There is conflict and emotion. The program certainly depicts a situation wherein excessive media usage may pose serious problematic issues to our society and culture. This also stirs emotions of unease and worry. Yet at the same time, the program looks to reflect a feeling of hope and opportunity.
Ultimately, while the program does hit on a number of those traditional news values, there is a question about pure objectivity not only throughout the programs narrative design, but also its editing (the choice to follow the segment on small children confusing reality with virtual reality by the segment on the Army's gaming centers was not, in my opinion, coincidental). But this is a complex issue; and total objectivity, while a noble goal, is not an ideal that can be wholly accomplished in any journalistic endeavor. While there are certainly critiques that can be levied against the program, in the end I believe that the program strikes a good position of raising issues without beating a perspective over the audience's heads.
A question posed to our 3101 class was whether this program does a good job of depicting our generation of college students. This is somewhat difficult for me to answer, as I am markedly older than the vast majority of my college peers. It is also somewhat difficult for me as I like to believe I am a bit more insulated from the effects of digital, and in particular mobile, media. My cell phone would be considered rudimentary even by 2004 standards. I don't own a television. I don't use social networking sites. In my New Media Culture course, on the first day the question was asked "how often do you use mobile media?" I was one of only two people in the class of over 100 who answered less than three times a day. The point, I suppose, is that I don't consider myself to be a typical 2010 college student; at least not by the measures of media usage.
But I think this position of nearness, yet not total inclusiveness, to the present college generation gives me a unique and credible vantage point for examining the demographic.
David Jones, an associate professor at MIT, stated in Digital Nation while talking about his students' use of mobile media, they're penchant for multitasking and the subsequent effects he saw on they're classroom performance: "It's not that they are dumb. It's not that they're not trying. I think they're trying in a way that is not as effective as it could be."
In my New Media Culture course we watched this program in its entirety over three class periods. After the first class we had mostly just finished up the portion of the program dealing with the MIT students, and some of the studies being done on multitasking. After the class was over, a girl in front of me was packing her things and talking to her friend, gloating "I multitasked through that whole class. And I even took notes." I found the irony too perfect: that the entire point of this segment (and indeed what David Jones was commenting on) was lost on her. And quite possibly, perhaps likely, because of the very thing that Jones and Digital Nation were describing as problematic. Nobody was saying that it is impossible for younger, more technologically savvy college students to multitask. What was being said was that this multitasking negatively affects the ability to perform the tasks being engaged in; just as the ability to grasp the major point in Digital Nation was negatively affected for my classmate. I would have loved to have seen her notes.