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Sreenath Sreenivasan Tries To Tame The Internet

How are we responding critically to the new onslaught of information that the internet represents.

With the internet revolution well underway, Sreenath Sreenivasan, a professor of journalism at Columbia University in New York and administrator of the Online Journalism Awards, is responding by trying to tame the new wild beast.

Some have ignored the internet. Others have excluded those who are not part of the new club. But many journalism professionals and communicators have embraced the internet and are now striving to tame the new uncontrollable animal.

One way is by giving awards. Sreenivasan at The Columbia Journalism School, the same organization that offers The Pulitzer Prize, administered the Online Journalism Awards which were presented December 1st.

What were they looking for:

"Presentation, design, accuracy of words, fast download times.... A series of things produce the right result," said Sreenivasan who teaches internet journalism courses at Columbia.

"Like radio at the turn of the century, and TV during the 1950, there are no new formulas yet," said Sreenivasan. "The toughest thing is that it is all new to us. We are setting the convention."

The Online Journalism Awards were presented in six categories including: General Excellence in Online Journalism, Breaking News, Enterprise Journalism, Service Journalism, Most Creative Use of the Medium, and Online Commentary. The first five awards are also offered for original work and also in collaboration with another medium.

One can read about the Online Journalism Awards at: (http://www.onlinejournalismawards.org/background.html)

Sreenivasan's whole life has been changed by the internet. It has made his reporting easier. It has provide him new venues for his work. He can interview people from all over the world around the clock. He also uses it to communicate with family and friends. He can put up family photographs. It has made things more interesting. It allows him to define himself. He surfs four browser windows at the same time.

"I have become an internet person," said Sreenivasan. "The biggest single thing to in my life short of getting married."

Sreenivasan also has a good attitude towards e-mail which he receives hundreds of pieces every day.

In an opinion piece for USA Today on Friday, June 9, Sreenivasan wrote:

"One of my friends and collegues accuse me of adding to the information clutter in their lives. They think I send out too many e-mail messages (100 a day, typically), and receive too many (250 a day, at least). They even invented a name for it: Sree-email.... It is intrusive in many ways, but I am very happy about it," said Sreenivasan.

For Sreenivasan, an international person who was born in Tokyo and is concerned with the issues of South Asians, he has been able to reach out to the whole world. He was once a subscriber to the Hindu which he can now read daily online.

"I have friends who wonder how I survived before the internet," said Sreenivasan.

If not for the internet Sreenivan believes he would be a business reporter not focused on tech journalism. He would be teaching broadcast instead of the internet.

"I believe this is here to stay and the future of our lives. It is here to stay. It is very much here," said Sreenivasan. "There is no end to the way I use it."

In a Commentary on information overload for Friday June 9, 2000, Sreenivasan wrote:

"I may thrive on information overload, but most others don't. There is more news and more media coming at us from more places than ever before, but that doesn't mean we are better informed. Thanks to 24-hour cable networks and thousands of media sites, even news junkies can get media fatigue. I know of several people who have decided it's better to tune out than try to keep up. But the rest of us soldier on."

Sreenivasan is involved with publishing on the internet for The South Asian Journalist Association, Inequality.org, and the Online News Association. Sreenivasan, who also runs a man of year prediction site on the internet for fun, wished that Gandhi was named the person of the century rather than Einstein.

"But this has been more a century of technology than peace," he said.

Ryder Miller






Read More About Sreenath: Read Some Of His Writing

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