Tales from the Trail

Smart power meets smart phones

The State Department is accelerating its push into the Internet, hoping to use web sites, blogs and mobile phones to deliver the U.S. message around the world.

The State Department itself unveiled a new-look web site on Thursday, including a video clip greeting from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and one-click “share” options to deliver the message over Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.

CANADA/“No one person or country has a monopoly on good ideas. So I hope this website will be a forum for learning, discussion and collaboration,” Clinton said in the clip.

Clinton’s “innovation” advisor, Alec Ross, told a think-tank audience on Thursday that U.S. statecraft would increasingly take place in cyberspace, with special attention paid to messages deliverable over cellphones — which are now the way many people in developing countries access information.

“The times have changed, and these changes require pivots in our statecraft,” Ross said, noting that worldwide the total number of cellphone handsets had jumped by about 500 million to 4.6 billion during the eight months he has been in office.

Texting up, newspaper reading down

The figures have been tallied and the bad news is in.

Newspaper sales have dropped by 7.2 million copies a day so far this decade, from 55.8 million in 2000 to 48.6 million in 2008.

So says the just-releasSCRIPPS/ed 2010 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

With newspaper sales dropping, something was bound to give, and so it did.

A bunch of newspapers went out of business.

The number of daily newspapers in the United States fell by 72, from 1,480 in 2000 to 1,408 in 2008.