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Kara Swisher at the TechFestNW event in Portland
Kara Swisher at the TechFestNW event in Portland

Kara Swisher is one of the most trusted and feared technology journalists on the planet, with a massive social following and a growing audience at her newly-launched tech news site Re/code. But Swisher doesn’t ascribe to the theory that journalists or large media entities, for that matter, control the messages that the public consumes.

“I think journalism has never been less influential,” said Swisher, speaking today at the TechFestNW conference in Portland.

Swisher took issue with an audience member’s question about information “gatekeepers,” pointing out that there are no longer three TV networks or a few newspapers that disseminate the news.

“Access to information is like never before,” said Swisher. “People don’t have to rely on just The New York Times, and things like that.”

Kara Swisher
Kara Swisher

In fact, the variety of voices — what Swisher dubbed the “cacophony of noise” — is creating problems for consumers of news who can’t sort out the good from the bad.

“There is too much information and data flowing at us. And what happens is you get confused, and there are all types of arguments,” said Swisher.

With all of that noise, Swisher said there’s now room for “trusted sources” around a variety of topics. “There are all kinds of new influencers all over the place, from fashion to politics,” said Swisher, noting the rise of the Men in Blazers commentary during the recent World Cup.

Nonetheless, all of that information is impacting how we think, one of the other big issues that Swisher addressed.

Swisher sympathized with another audience member, noting the challenges in reading long-form content.  “You can’t read anymore,” she said.

“I was reading a book the other day and I had a hard time, but I love the Twitter,” she said. “You read a lot more, you just read in bites and bits. It will be interesting for cognitive psychologists … the shifting of the brain with these small bits of information.”

Swisher, for one, has a hard time disconnecting, retelling the embarrassing tale of holding onto her BlackBerry and texting colleague Walt Mossberg while giving birth. When the doctors wheeled her into the operating room for a C-section, the BlackBerry was still in her hand.

“One of the doctors said: Kara, you have to stop,’ And I was like, what are you talking about? My BlackBerry was in my hand while I was having my baby. I feel really horrible,” she said to laughs from the crowd.

Editor’s note: Kara Swisher and Re/code co-founder Walt Mossberg will speak at the upcoming GeekWire Summit, taking place in Seattle on Oct. 2

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