The technological advances by which we now receive information have made the afternoon newspaper part of the conversation that includes the rotary telephone, five TV channels from which to choose, or that in 1973 the price of gas during the oil embargo averaged 39 cents a gallon.
But as most undoubtedly know, technology threatens the daily newspaper, along with what we've come to know as the evening news.
But the real downside to the information saturation may be the reactionary way issues are formulated.
The tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 28 people dead, has understandably dominated the news since it occurred Dec. 14. But the result has been creation of reactionary policy based on Newtown being the face of gun violence in America. But cities such as Oakland, Flint, Mich., Detroit, Washington, D.C., Chicago and other urban areas, might beg to differ.
Topics such as guns and same-sex marriage are sure to garner a huge response from readers whenever I write about them. Many of the reactions seem to be focused more on emotional belief than what was actually written.
Recently, two consecutive news cycles were dominated by whether President Barack Obama should apologize for the following statement about California Attorney General Kamala Harris:
"She's brilliant and she's dedicated, she's tough," Obama said. "She also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general."
Perhaps it was, as Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus recently offered, "political malpractice" on the president's part. The president subsequently apologized, thereby putting the issue to rest, but given the enormity of the issues that confront the nation, should this be a lead news story for two days?
California has the unique distinction of being the republic's most powerful economic engine as well as its most dysfunctional in terms of governing.
Could it be that 24-hour news cycles have greatly elevated the inconsequential? Are the problems so dauntingly large at the local, state and national level that it is just easier to focus on what offers little chance of moving us forward?
I wouldn't offer Newtown as inconsequential, but I do fear what is being proposed fails to address the larger issue of gun violence that plagues the nation.
As I have opined in previous columns, it is a shirts-versus-skins mentality that dominates who and what we've become. Just as shirts versus skins is a common form of denoting team affiliations in playground basketball in the absence of uniforms, it also describes much of our political discourse in that our support is based more on who said it than what was said.
Are we merely lining up, adorning our favorite teams' paraphernalia, waiting to react to the latest news item with our predictable, prefabricated reaction?
So I would like to know from readers what you feel is the most pressing California issue that is not receiving adequate coverage. It does not matter if it's local, regional or statewide.
If you don't like the way the news is presented, here is your opportunity to vent about the state. If you were columnist for the day, what would be the one California issue you would address?
Here is your opportunity to shape the news, at least in this column. I will only publish the email content and not reveal any names. Negative rants and manufactured talking points will not be considered.
I have my own thoughts, which I will share in next week's column, or maybe in two weeks, depending on the number of lucid and well-reasoned emails I receive.
I look forward to reading your thoughts.
Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or email@example.com.