In the not so distant past, families would gather in anticipation of hearing the familiar and soothing voices of David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather. (Okay, so I grew up in a CBS household – more from the angle of the roof antenna than from choice.  For those of you with better reception or just simply a little bit younger than I; imagine Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw.)  We knew if they had bad news to tell us, everything would be okay just because of who they were and how they presented it.  When the news was good, you found yourself sharing in their excitement from your living room.

Fast forward to the infancy of cable and the 24-hour cable news networks. How long did it take for us to realize that it was not in fact 24 hours of breaking news?  Was it after the third or fifth time the same news story was replayed on our television screens?

Social media has changed how we process news and information.  At any point in a 24 hour day, we log in and quench our thirst for news moments after it occurs or even as it is happening through live streaming.  With the influx of blogs, twitter and social media sites, we take on the role of “news distributors”.  (I use the term “news distributor” in deference to the professional journalist who is compensated to report the facts in an unbiased manner.)

We receive updates on our news feeds and share them with our network of friends. We post our commentaries and reactions before the facts have been fully fleshed out by seasoned journalists.

Rallies are organized; independent investigative task forces are called for; and online petitions are started; all before the morning paper’s ink has had a chance to dry. The online distraction can become so intense that the full facts, when finally released, never seem to satisfy us. Social media has taken on the role of the fatherly news anchor types of the past.

We more driven by our initial reactions than ever before.  Gone are the days where facts and figures are left to the journalists to decipher and analyze for us.  We already know the lead story before the 11 o’clock news or the delivery of the the morning newspaper.

As broadcast and print media continue to evolve in the Internet age, consumers of the news need to be flexible in how they react.  The days of the final edition are over. There will always be an update to an update.  Our indignation and disgust on Monday may be tempered by additional information in an update released on Wednesday.