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We Are The Media

Posted 2 years ago
 

My friend, Colorado based video journalist Eric Blumer sent me a link to a piece in the Washington Post and asked what I thought of it.

The piece, buy Paul Farhi, is entitled, "Please Stop Calling Us The Media, There Is No Such Thing"

Farhi, who is the Post's Media Reporter (so the byline says), wants to tell us that when 'we' complain about 'the media', it is unfair to include him.  'The Media', he tells us, is lots of people, from (I suppose), The Washington Post to CrankyCrackpot.com (I think thiat one is fictional).  

For a 'media reporter', I found his desire to separate himself from 'the media', well interesting. But the most interesting paragraph was this one:

"Consider: There are hundreds of broadcast and cable TV networks, a thousand or so local TV stations, a few thousand magazines and newspapers, several thousand radio stations and roughly a gazillion websites, blogs, newsletters and podcasts. There’s also Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and who knows what new digital thing.

All of these, collectively, now constitute the media."

There was a time, not so long ago, when 'The Media' meant CNN, CBS, The New York Times, The Washington Post and a handful of other major media companies - because that is what they are - media companies.  And even if they were 'owned' by different corporate entities, they all pretty much sang from the same hymn book. That is, the 'news' on CBS was not all that different from the news on ABC or NBC. The cover of Newsweek was generally pretty similar to the cover for Time.

Those were the days.

Life was simple then.

What has happened now is a massive technological revolution - and that revolutoin is about to change everything.

Media companies like NBC or CNN or The Washington Post held their position because of a technolgical and cost barrier.  There was a physical limit on the number of networks that over the air transmission could carry, and so, the FCC 'awarded' space over the air on an exclusive basis to NBC, ABC and CBS, effectively cuttinge veryone else out. Think of it as Portugal 'claiming' half of South America with one ship and 40 people.  

For newspapers, the barriers were cost. As HL Mencken wrote in 1961, 'Freedom of the press belongs to those who can afford one.  But printing presses are expensive, as is paper, ink and trucks to deliver the paper every morning.  

Now, all those barriers to access have been blown away. 

Today, anyone with an iPhone has a complete TV news broadcast facility in their pocket. It can do everything from shooting to editing, graphics, music and of course, transmission worldwide, all for no cost.

It is interesting that the 'media reporter' for the Post writes, "who knows what new digital thing."

Yeah.

Well Paul, the 'new digital thing' is that now everyone (and I mean everyone) has the power that was once the sole property of only the very few - the power to publish.

What the printing press did for writing books the iPhone and the Internet now are doing for TV.

To answer your question, we are now ALL 'the media' - all of us.  Every one of us who cares about the nation or the world or some particular event are now all collectively 'the media'.  

There is also no longer much that is special about The Washington Post or CNN.  The barriers to competition have pretty effectively been blown away.  

Welcome to the world a a free press.  I mean, a true free press.

We have never had one before, but now, for the first time in human history, we have one now.

And, as a result, things are going to be different.

Very different.

And that is no bad thing.

 


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