The takeover of mainstream media by large corporations has had two devastating effects. Most obvious is the editorial control that the corporations have exercised over their properties, but I think a bigger problem is the resulting fiscal control. The need to control costs and increase profits has led to a media that can afford to do little more than repeat talking points fed to them, while doing little or no original work or investigative journalism. If you believe that a vibrant media is essential to a vibrant democracy, then this is clearly a disaster.
One of the biggest things I enjoy about running this blog (which takes a massive amount of time for pretty much no pay) is the community that has grown up around it. It often surprises me that I have not needed to install controls on comments like many websites have, but the level of discourse remains largely friendly and informative. On the other hand, it does bother me that I don’t have the resources to do original research or investigative journalism.
Which is why I’m enjoying watching the Daily Kos evolve from a (vibrant) blogging community, into what might become the future of news in this country. For example, consider this video on DailyKosTV from Jed Lewison (who many of you may remember from the election for the excellent blog The Jed Report). Lewison is able to easily debunk a blatant lie from Fox News:
In addition, DailyKos is now doing their own polls (just like a “real” newspaper!).
So what do you think? Can blogging communities become the new sources of hard news when the mainstream (corporate) media withers and dies?
Incidentally, the media problem is not limited to the US — two mainstream Bangladeshi newspapers reprinted an article they took from The Onion, not realizing that it was a satirical website.
UPDATE: Another viewpoint on the Future of News — Why I Love Al Jazerra — brilliantly written, too.
It’s already happening isn’t it? Look at the recent election protests in Iran. Iranians were blogging and tweeting about what was really happening whilst the Government was trying to pretend that all was well.
My partner and I have not used the TV for news for years. I still use some mainstream media (BBC, UPI, Reuters, AP, and two local websites for local news). But I use those mainstream sites to make me aware of the news that I miss elsewhere–from Google’s news page to Huffington Post and Politico and, yes, DailyKos.
I honestly don’t know why anyone would bother with such drivel from, say, CNN or MSNBC, or, of course, Fox.
What I really miss is honest, intelligent interviewers and questioners. PR statements are copied and repeated, not questioned and investigated, for instance. That’s amazingly frustrating (especially because I live far away from the major urban centers: I can’t just talk to the people, use a real library to investigate, or get at the government’s less publicized documents).
Once my mom called me from the doctor’s waiting room ranting about something. After a few minutes I asked her watch she is watching. She replied, “CNN.” I told her she should stop watching it because it is making her blood pressure go up. Sure enough, her BP was noticeably higher than normal. I’ve been trying to get her to watch the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer instead. I can’t say I’ve been very successful. We stopped watching TV news for anything except the occasional feel-good story and the weather.