The Press is Dead…Long Live the Free Press
So here we are in the 21st Century looking for the signs of positive change in an ever-dawning Future. All the while being constantly reminded that many segments of the Mainstream Media still seem more interested in leading with stories that bleed, or in brow-beating the Past, rather than taking a more proactive approach to promoting genuine grass-roots change here in the Present.
So with the status quo being so well entrenched, people are increasingly turning to fringe sources of alternative “news” and information, and hoping that others are doing the same to preserve a realistic view of the world around them. Of course, this isn’t the time or place to delve into the greatly diminished role of the “Free Press” in protecting our various Democracies, but it bears mention that one of the greatest casualties of the Post-Modern Age has been the much publicised demise of the big, well-financed, and possibly overstaffed ‘Newsprint Giants’ of the 20th century, and quite possibly the venerable institution of Journalism itself.
Among so many besieged traditional specialties in the Media, ones that are in particularly obvious decline are the the crucial roles of Researchers and Investigative Journalists. People who were once trained to dig up and develop stories that go against the grain and demand accountability from Governments and Corporations, and thus assure some basics checks and balances to the free-market versions of Democracy. After decades of relative peace and prosperity, some might just say who cares if ‘print journalism’ is in peril? Just because TV News operations are even more indentured to their Corporate parents, doesn’t mean that we should be concerned about the fate of Journalism as a whole…Should we?
After all…What harm could this do to the Future, if some archaic form of Mass Media from the Past were to die off?
So far…So good…So what?
In an age where Beat Reporters (CityHall, CapitalHill, Environmental, etc) seem to be going the way of the dinosaur, the News ‘food chain’ now seems well and fully adapted to living off easier, pre-digested 3rd party sources instead of developing the news in-house. As a result of this increasingly common approach to news gathering, where Mainstream Media draws most of it’s pre-assembled material from big newswires and other centralised PR Agencies, we’re not only seeing an increasing amount of bias and groupthink appearing in print, but also a steady erosion of such journalistic basics as fact checking and well balanced reporting.
Take for example the recent backlash against the Toronto Star for running with a rumour about Pat Burns’ death. This story seemingly ran with only the stated word of Cliff Fletcher in Toronto, without bothering with a simple fact check. Much less, allowing heels cool with a a more dignified piece on a great man’s lifetime achievements. Essentially, the news ‘splash’ took precedence over assuring that basic measures were in place first, and speaks volumes about the editorial priorities of such a newsroom.
The ironic part of this rather cynical view, is that despite a popular distrust of centralised power-structures behind corporately owned Media Giants, people still seem to genuinely believe that The Press will still stand between them and the corrupting forces of the world, and offer the (largely mythical) social values of an unbiased and well-balanced freedom of the Press as a result. The trick to satisfying this popular desire will likely be in finding a way to combine the established trust of the Mainstream Press, with the unencumbered freedom of expression available via the plethora of alternative sources.
Perhaps we can look forward to seeing better connective tissues slowly forming between the the clamoring legions of Bloggers, Citizen Reporters, and so-called ‘Comentariat’ who are all feeding their 2-cents worth into a more self-balancing system that should ultimately still be held together by a backbone of bonefide Journalists.
So while we await better forms of moderation and quality ratings within the Comments sections of news sites, and and more effective ways to aggregate reader opinions and public perceptions, there’s still one issue that should be put to abit more scrutiny in the meantime…
Are Public Relations methods limiting our wider perceptions via the narrowed views of The Press?
Consider the case of:
Eco-PR vs. Power Producers
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