Sunday, September 12, 2004

A Triumph of Democracy

It now seems that the ascendance of the blogsphere over the mainstream media is a triumph of freedom and democracy. Steven Horowitz says in his thoughtful article:

For years, we've heard from both Right and Left that the "Big Media" are a problem. Each group thinks they are the handmaiden of the other group. What both appear to agree on is that they are near-all powerful entities who are growing unchecked like some electromagnetic cancer upon the land. The Left has long had the small alternative press, which tried to counter the power
of the Big Guys, but with limited success, and it had academia. The Right, since the 80s anyway, has had the think-tank world (which I've always viewed as the alternative university for libertarians and conservatives who perceived themselves, perhaps wrongly, as being closed out of academic by what they saw as leftist power). However it had no real media of its own (Jim and Tammy Faye don't count) until the advent of the Internet. There's a reason the earliest and
most well-known blogs lean conservative or libertarian: there was a latent demand for their services.

The net finally reduced the cost of publishing to near zero, at least on the margin, and radically democratized the knowledge production industry, especially investigative reporting. By eliminating both political (think broadcast licenses) barriers to entry and the huge start up
costs of publishing, the Internet widened the sphere of liberty for those who wished to be producers of information. The result, as we've seen so clearly the last 48 hours, is that the strength of Big Media power has been radically reduced. Average Americans, with their knowledge of typewriters, military procedure, or fairly obscure terms like "kerning," were able to compete with, and effectively neutralize, one of the most powerful organizations on the

Some see this as nothing less than a new revolution in media. The distributed intelligence of the internet replacing Big Media; the common man's experience x 1 million replacing journalists, and that we will all be better off for it.

However, before the Triumph of the Net is made into a movie, I would like to propose that rather (a bad word, I know) than replacing the Print and TV News media; the internet will actually become a resource and tool for those media--at least for the media that are capable of changing their dinosaur mentalities. In the NEW MEDIA that would evolve from this union, there would be a far more objective and "fair and balanced" perspective that is missing from the Old Media--as represented by CBS. Editorial decisions, as well as research, fact-checking; analysis etc. could all be functions of the utilization of the Net by the Print and TV news. Those outlets that are flexible and appreciate the vast resource available for their stories; and are able to appreciate the speed as well as the varied perspectives available to them in developing a news story would be able to dominate this new market.

The mainstream media have been losing customers for some years now. I believe the reason why this is occurring can be traced directly to the conscious and unconscious biases of those who control and operate those media. While some outlets deliberately have a particular ideology and make all their news stories "fit" into that procrustean agenda; others are not even aware that they are bias because of the "cocoon" that the owners, editors and writers live in. Those of us can see it from the outside looking in; but they, long ago, lost the ability to see themselves as others see them. They truly believe that their opinions are the holy Truth and so are able to see only those news stories that fit their Truth. This latter scenario is probably the case with the CBS fiasco. I would like to think that the deception was not a deliberate attempt to foist their particular beliefs in the middle of a presidential election, but we shall see, won't we?

In this triumph of Democracy, Liberty and the Common Man (and Woman), we will see the beginnings of many changes in the world of News and Information Dissemination. It is like a tidal wave of freedom, and it bodes well for the entire world.

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