I was there, working at Musicland, when the ability to transmit music digitally over the web took hold. I watched, from the inside, how it changed things. I saw the attempts, from the inside, to hold onto the old structure. I also saw that fail.
I think many would agree that now, an artist wanting to create their own music, can do so (the price of recording has gone down substantially, with the advent of digital recording and mastering techniques), and can distribute it online on the web. What we used to know as “Record” companies have been having a hard time. Even major groups, like the Eagles, have decided they don’t need the major companies any more (which were important in years prior because they controlled the distribution; they always counted on little folk to do the creation of the ideas), and are “publishing” on the web.
News, journalism, commentary, is now also available to the average person, at the touch of a button. All you have to do is get a website, or a blog (or 2, or 3), and you can publish, literally, to the world. Why would someone send a letter to the Editor of the StarTribune, for example, and then wait to see if they would deign to publish it (which they won’t, it is goes against their agenda), when one can merely speak through words online?
Once this caught hold, major media outlets tried to do it. Like television stations having websites, and newspapers having “blogs.”
And that’s all good and everything. But those are just different formats of the basic major media formula. And people know that. And, in those formats, it seems the major media had everything it had going for it, because it let go of its standards of professional journalism.
The StarTribune, for example, hosts an online site where people can “hit and run,” anonymously, making all kinds of scurrilous statements. Those are the types of statements journalists used to filter through, or, at least, if they quoted them, they used their name.
In the background, to sign up, my guess is you’ll find you have to enter your contact information (surely you do to post on many sites). That means that the StarTribune knows who is hitting and running. But they still are not publishing their names.
And, given what I have observed in this town for many years, the tone and the topics of those who hit and run on the StarTribune site, I formulated a theory that there is, quite literally, a hit squad of police who have, as their public paid job, to go online and smear those who are speaking out in a way that some view as anti-police.
Major media: major problem.
First, it is not anti-police to point out problems caused by certain conduct or certain officers. When you think about it, that is actually pro police. Good police officers suffer, when bad police officers are permitted to continue their bad conduct.
Second, I know of many people who don’t want public monies spent in that way. What is the major media thinking when it facilitates this type of agenda? Is there some tit for tat that I am not aware of?
Third, you can stand at the ocean and put your hands out, you can even get everyone one willing to do so, to come down to the shore to help you. But you will never stem the tide.
Things are changing. Change is hard (emotionally, for many people, although some thrive on it, and even those, feel weary at times when it is happening to them), but the only thing that stays the same is that there will always be change.
As De Toqueville’s Fourth Estate, the Media was granted great power in this country. But with great power comes great responsibility. I have been known to say that the Fourth Estate (supposed to be the watchdog of government; that’s why the power) has gotten in bed with government, so we now need a Fifth Estate, to watch the Fourth Estate.
Whether you like it or not, and whether intended or not, the little bloggers are the Fifth Estate. They get to comment on you, they get to comment on government, and they get to do it all from the comforts of their own homes. They have stripped the model of bricks and mortar, and they are off to the races.
And you, and all of your friends, will not be able to stop it. Attempts at delay are fruitless. All that will get you is sour and lonely. (And if we look at your subscription numbers, lonely you are.)
Newspapers were an immeasurable form of communication for a time. So many things were impacted by the daily rolling out of the paper and its delivery to parts far and wide. No one is disaffirming that. The major media played an important role, and many people are a product of the way in which journalism shaped the 60’s, the 80’s, etc.
But now it is 2013, and times have changed.
This is an invitation to change with them, and not to try to squelch those of us who want to comment on our government, and our society.