Technology is changing the way people get the news, and the number of media choices today is staggering. Madison is blessed to have both.
The term "media" first cropped up in the 1920s. The notion of "mass media" was generally restricted to newspapers until World War II, when radio and television were introduced. Audio-visual facilities became very popular in the post-World War II period because they provided both information and entertainment.
Today, the growth of mass media, driven by technology such as the Internet, offers even more opportunities to stay informed.
Dr. Gerry Schlenker of the University of Sioux Falls says the media today is everywhere.
"Unfortunately, a great many of us don't use it very well," Schlenker said. "It is online with radio, television, newspapers and all sorts of electronic media. We are bombarded with information. The social media has the ability to transmit massive amounts of information, but often it is difficult to determine the actual source of the information, or the accuracy of that information."
Schlenker heads up USF's Media Center, a new state-of-the-art media program that encompasses the school's vast journalism disciplines, including radio and television. South Dakota Public Broadcasting often uses the university facilities.
Schlenker said young people now entering the journalism field must have skills that exceed those that prepared reporters for newspapers and broadcasting just a few years ago.
"Today they have to be familiar and know how to use all electronic media, including cell phones and other mobile devices," he said. "The first real use of cell phone technology in reporting the news occurred in the first Gulf War when hostilities broke out."
According to the Pew Research Center, American adults under age 30 regularly depend on social media for their news. The study found 33 percent of those adults got news from social networks, while 34 percent watched TV news and just 13 percent read print or digital newspaper content.
Many young people in Madison depend on the Internet for their news. Danielle Summer and Jesse Kagarise are students at Dakota State University.
"I don't even have a television in my room and rarely read a newspaper, although it is kind of embarrassing to say so because my mother works for a newspaper," said Kagarise, who said he depends on the Internet.
Summer said she also depends on the Internet for her information.
The same is true of many high school students. Rasmes Laursen, an exchange student, said Google and social media are the mainstay of young people. He said he uses the Internet to keep track of things back home. He also favors Blackboard for sports information.
Madison Nipe said Facebook and other Internet sites are her favorites.
"I really tend to look up news about celebrities rather than go on the Internet to find hard news," she said.
Brenna Johnson agreed. "For me it is Facebook."
Madison High School no longer prints a copy of the school newspaper; it is available only on the school website.
John and Kathi Eisenbeis, however, are typical of many adults. They subscribe to The Madison Daily Leader so that they can keep abreast of local news and sports, but they depend on television for other news.
"We usually watch KELO-TV at noon, then switch to KDLT in the evening," said Eisenbeis. Both also use the Internet, "especially to track weather," he said.
Both said they use the radio only for music and while driving in the car.
Ken Bauman of Madison, who spent most of his working career in banking and investments, depends on the Internet to track the markets.
"I guess it is something of a habit," he said, "but I occasionally go to the USAToday web site and the Wall Street Journal for news."
Both he and his wife Betty said that for local news, they read The Daily Leader and watch evening television news programs.
"I'll admit that I'm becoming more and more a listener to Fox News for their reporting of national and international events," said Bauman.
His wife said she uses the Internet, especially the Madison Daily Leader's web site, while in Texas for the winter. "It is a handy way to keep up with what is going on back home," she said.
Jon Hunter, a third-generation newspaper publisher, said most young people read and write more than young people 20 years ago, given the popularity of texting, messaging and social media posting.
"I see many young people reading more. Writing is making a comeback. With the advent of Facebook and other forms of electronic communication, we are seeing people not only having many more sources of news and information, we also see people writing more as part of this technology. This is especially true in the social media so prevalent today. To be sure, the writing is slightly different than before, but it is communicating, writing."
Hunter also believes that more older people are embracing different forms of media in their quest for news.
"All media, from the earliest days of the town crier to the latest smartphones, have had different audiences at different times," he said.
The Daily Leader has intentionally posted just a fraction of the content of the print version on its free website. The paper intends to offer a new paid site which would have all of the content. Hunter expects the new electronic version to be a hit with those who seek warmer climates in the winter.
The Daily Leader also has a website, DailyLeaderLive.com, that webcasts live certain MHS sports, and another site, DailyLeaderPhotos.com, that offers photographs for sale that have appeared in print or were taken by Daily Leader photographers.
On Feb. 12, 2003, the Chester School Board heard a proposal from high school Principal Mike Reinhiller urging approval to subscribe to the Channel One news service. Channel One provided news and special interest stories every day to students in a 12-minute taped program.
"It was something of a big deal back then," said Reinhiller. Today, however, Channel One News is available on the Internet.
"It was on the cutting edge in its day," he said.
Blogging, too, has become a pervasive form of media. A blog is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or interactive media such as images or video. Many blogs provide commentary or news. Cory Heidelberger's "Madville Times" is one example.
This provides a "love-hate relationship for many people," said Schlenker, "because many blogs go beyond just reporting the news; they comment on it."
Heidelberger readily admits his "Madville Times" is biased, slanted toward a "more liberal viewpoint. But everybody is biased. Every newspaper makes editorial choices. Editors and reporters pick stories that they think are important," said Heidelberger. "We impose an unfair expectation on newspapers, that they hide such political preferences in their reporting. Blogs labor under no such fakery. My biases and agenda are out in the open for everyone to see. Readers can take my reporting with as many grains of salt as they see fit.
``We'd be better off if newspapers and journalists went back to declaring their allegiances. Let Fox News drop fair and balanced and just say, `Sure, we're Republicans'," he said.
Heidelberger believes blogs "fill a void with state news analysis. The mainstream press and the Internet offer lots of commentary on national issues, but very few thoughtful writers dedicate their efforts to analyzing state and local issues."
Heidelberger said that until newspapers, television and radio do more detailed reporting, "people will turn to online media to get those things they currently are not getting from the mainstream media."
Hunter sees an explosion of news outlets, but a limited number of journalists investigating and writing the news.
"While there are many outlets for news, information and opinion, there are far fewer generators of content. Google doesn't have reporters in Baghdad, Washington, D.C., or Pierre, S.D. Someone still has to do the tough work to find out what is really happening and reporting it accurately. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but they need a well-researched story to comment on."
"Most people still want facts," Hunter added. "When they want news about a local event, for instance, they'll go to the media they come to trust. People know that much of what is put on talk radio, blogs or Facebook is rumor or opinion, not fact."
While the methods for delivering the news have changed drastically, the majority of people here still depend on the established printed page and the broadcast media.
"We can't possibly carry the details of a story like The Madison Daily Leader can," said Peg Nordling, general manager of KJAM. "We can only give a few details. Madison is very fortunate to have not only a radio station but also a daily newspaper. Communities twice our size don't have what we have."
Nordling said that her business has changed much over the years. "Today you can listen to KJAM on your computer. We also have a web site."
KJAM dates back to Dr. Joseph A. Muggly, a local physician, who purchased the station. John Goeman, fresh out of school, added the technical skill to put the AM radio station on the air. The date was Dec. 3, 1959. In December 1968, KJAM added an FM station, and for a time the two operated as a simulcast, meaning both stations carried the same programming. Today they are separate stations. In 1995 the station increased power on the FM channel. In 2000, the local station was purchased by Three Eagles Communications.
"I think the real value of a local radio station was proven when the flood hit Madison in 1993," said Nordling. "KJAM stayed on the air around the clock to keep residents informed. It also provided a valuable service to the emergency workers because everybody could be kept up to date on what was going on. Our main job is to always be able to communicate with the public."
Nordling said local radio helps citizens keep up with local issues, everything from meeting announcements to breaking news stories.
"Plus that, we have music, weather, market reports and a whole host of other programming," she said.
Even television has experienced a shift in reporting the news. Many stations have gone to an entertainment format. A Pew Research report said shrinking reporting staff in television means that 40 percent of the average newscast is taken up by segments about weather, sports and traffic.
An Associated Press story on April 8 said some people "have had it with TV," especially the 100-plus channel universe. "They don't like timing their lives around network show schedules and they are tired of $100-plus monthly bills."
The AP said a growing number of viewers have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV service, electing instead to watch news and movies on the Internet or cell phones.