Griscom: Keeping, gaining readers

Griscom: Keeping, gaining readers

June 6th, 2010 by Tom Griscom in Opinion Columns

About three years ago, this column was composed from a message that was found on the side of a paper coffee cup at a local Starbucks.

The coffee company created a set of "The Way I See It" messages, and this was No. 225. One only assumes that 224 went before, but who's counting?

This is message No. 225: "People don't read enough. And what reading we do is cursory, without absorbing the subtleties and nuances that lie deep within - Wow, you've stopped paying attention, haven't you? People can't even read a coffee cup without drifting off."

The lines were attributed to the creator and executive producer of the television drama "House," David Shore.

A few days ago, a friend raised a concern that young people today do not know how to read and show little interest in being informed.

He said they do not watch television news, minimally read newspapers and other printed material, and do not "graze" much on websites that aggregate the work of others without adequate compensation.

The reason for his concern: These are the voters and leaders of tomorrow. If they have so little information and demonstrate a lack of interest in knowing what is going on around them and how actions affect them, what is going to happen in the future?

Legitimate points, but not attributable solely to Gen X, Y, Z or whatever the current alphabetic designator is.

For the hand-wringing opens new opportunities for those in the news creation and dissemination business.

The challenge is for those who provide the content to be willing to push the edges of new technology, but not for the "wow" factor.

Time, energy and a little money are required to experiment, but be ready for some of those experiments to fall flat.

There has to be a willingness to slide out on that high wire like the acrobat who only moves forward, maintaining a balance that seems precarious with every step.

The finding may be surprising: It will be a mixture.

One size is not going to fit all the generational alphabet users while holding on to those who came before: their parents (the boomers) and grandparents.

Financial choices, educational decisions and employment opportunities are discovered and fulfilled with research, information and knowledge.

No one entity today has the grip on information, but those who will succeed in the future will be the ones who were agile enough to shift, creative enough to take risks and wise enough to know that the audience is waiting.

To reach Tom Griscom, call 423-757-6472 or e-mail tgriscom@timesfreepress.com.