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February 11, 2005

Main Stream Media: A Requiem for the New Age

Because people will still want to read their newspaper on the train into work and want the news read to them in the evening, the dead tree papers and the talking heads will still have a place in our society, but it will be radically different than the way it is today.

The beauty of the blogs is that no one owns them, and they aren't conrolled by any single power, at least at this point. They don't clearly fall under the direction of the FCC or the FBI or the DEA or the NTSB. As such, they're basically the embodiment of the "free press" our founding fathers originally advocated. They warned against "licensing of the press", which is, of course, the sole purpose of the FCC and the NPA of 1970. The blogs wouldn't be important, if it weren't for the collosal consolidation of thought that has occurred in the Main Stream Media(MSM). Specifically:

  • Newspapers - Most large U.S. cities are single-paper-cities. Legal monopolies (technicllay Joint Opperating Agreements) allowed by ill-conceived Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970). No competition of ideas in the editorial department. If you don't agree with me, you won't work here. Next.

  • Radio Stations - A massive consolidation of radio stations is undeniable, and bad for the medium. Clear Channel owns something absurd like 60% of all radio programming in the United States. So, if your thoughts disagree with theirs, you're not likely to be heard on the radio any time soon.

  • Television - Ditto with the radio stations. Massive consolidation of ownership equates to massive thought consolidation. Colin Powell's little boy ran the FCC into the ground during his tenure. When the rest of the country could clearly see that consolidation of thought would be detrimental to the medium, Powell punted and allowed still greater concentration of television station ownership.
  • All of these three mediums are, unfortunately, a one way push of ideas. From producer to consumer. Shut up and take it...here it comes. This is the news...I'm going to read it to you know.

    The only chance people had to refute the inuendo and half-truths that results from the consolidation of though, coextant with the consolidation of ownership, was to write letters to the editor. Then, the editor would decide if the letters were printed or aired. It was a rigged game, and the consumers of this facile news product were sick of playing.

    Enter the Blogs

    The blogs are a breath of fresh air. It's a chance for people to participate in a true two-way communication where a guy can hammer out a scathing rebuttal in his home office, and be the talk over the office water coolers all over the world the next day, if his ideas and facts check out, and make logical sense.

    The line that separates news producers from news consumers, the journalist from the reader, the publisher from the subscriber, has been unequivocably eradicated, as Eason Jordan and Dan Rather learned the hard way. No longer will the talking heads be allowed to lecture down their pretentious noses to the huddled, unquestioning masses. Those days are over.

    The MSM has lost their ability to censor the consumer of the news. Their relationship has been changed. The genie is out of the bottle. There's no turning back. The MSM will be forced to adopt or to wither completely.

    Can The Old Media Survive?

    Because people will still want to read their newspaper on the train into work and want the news read to them in the evening, the dead tree papers and the talking heads will still have a place in our society, but it will be radically different than the way it is today.

    The talking heads will have to re-introduce themselves to the very basic principles of journalism. Make a least a half-hearted attempt to be fair and balanced for a start.
    They will have to open their own windows into the blogosphere, allow viewers to post comments, and read them.
    They will have to use the blogosphere to help identify stories from conception through resolution. They will have to work with the blog swarm, instead of against it.
    They will have to post their stories online, and cross-link to other competing news sites to lend credibility to their "facts". Currently, their facts are often not entirely true, and they have suffered a tremendous loss of credibility due to this.
    They can still have reporters writing stories, checking facts, but they will do this in very close concert with the blogosphere. Something similar to what Michelle Malkin did with the Eason Jordan story. She came to it somewhat late, but then hit the ground running. She got the big players to go on the record with quotes. That's journalism. That's what drives the blogs.
    So, this is the only place where the MSM can add value to journalism. Using existing relationships to get people to go on the record with quotes, producing informed balanced opinions, etc., and adding them to their own blogs on the internet. Then, the talking heads will essentially read their corporate news blog the air. The newspapers can print the blogs onto dead-trees.
    In the long run, news on the televsion, radio, and in print will become nothing more than a mouthpiece to report what is occurring in the blogosphere. The old media can survive in the new world order only by realizing this and adopting the new media and adapting it's methods to survive. If they don't do this, then they will find themselves as flatfooted as CNN, that didn't have a blip on Eason Jordan until he was forced to resign. Then, they were in the awkward position of reporting that he had resigned over an issue they had chosen not to cover. This will not be allowed to continue. If the mainstream media doesn't wake up, and adopt the blogosphere to their own purposes, then other news channels will rise to repleace them on television, radio, and in print.

    Posted by Peenie Wallie on February 11, 2005 at 2:20 PM


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