Big Media vs. New Media in the Information Age
(essay contest entry, Dec. 2004 – FreeMarketNews.com)
A terrible thing has happened here in the United States – and some of you might not even be aware of it. Our country, the one country in the world most regarded for its various Constitutional freedoms, has had its most precious freedom, the freedom of speech, stolen right out from under its proverbial nose. Not only is personal freedom of speech abridged, censored and regulated almost to death by the government, but our professional media services have gone and done the same thing to themselves – both willingly and enthusiastically, no less.
None of this should really come as such a shock, given our era of big government and big business, but quite a few people have been asleep in front of their televisions. For those of you paying attention, however, the word is out that “Big Media” (affectionately known as “The Liberal Media” or “The Propaganda Machine”) has been busy rendering itself useless to the promotion of freedom and the free exchange of information. It’s done this through corporate mergers and buyouts which have left in their wake a mere handful of mega-corporations, each with their very own agenda, questionable motives, and biased ties to the establishment.
Now, depending upon what day it is and who’s merged with whom, you’ll find that only about 9 corporations – including familiar names like AOL/Time Warner, Sony, At&T, and Walt Disney Co. – pretty much run the whole show. Between them, these guys run the gambit of television, film, radio, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, telecom, you name it.
Taking this a step further, it’s not unreasonable to deduce that ultimately just a handful of ridiculously overpaid individuals dictate daily what you will and will not hear from your traditional news media source – that’s local, national, and international in scope, in case you weren’t following along. And as you might have already guessed, journalistic integrity in this arena of multibillion-dollar mergers is largely a thing of the past. Old Guard news agencies like CNN and FoxNews have instead turned to idiotic talking heads who offer more highbrow entertainment than actual journalism. A rather bleak and disturbing picture, to be sure.
This combination of events has utterly ruined our Constitutional freedom of speech…
Or has it?
Fortunately for We The People, there’s still a candle burning in all this darkness. In fact, that light is burning brightly – blazing even! The Internet has created something we like to call “New Media”, and what a wonderful, shining, glorious thing it is.
New Media basically constitutes what amounts to a positively immense number of relatively tiny media operations spread throughout the broad spectrum of the World Wide Web. This conglomeration is the very antithesis of Big Media as these nearly innumerable media outlets cross all genres of topic and even all generations – young or old, there’s something for everyone on the Internet. And these media outlets take every conceivable shape and size, from tiny one-man personal web pages and blogs, to corporations that are themselves almost exclusively Internet-based.
Contrast Big Media with New Media and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there really is little to compare between the two. Where Big Media has been mergered to death, New Media is growing and expanding by leaps and bounds. Where Big Media works to limit competition and stamp out individuality, New Media actually thrives on competition, and individuality is, quite literally, the name of the game. In fact, the quest for individuality is what built the Internet in the first place (not Al Gore).
The comparison, simply put, is that there is no comparison.
Perhaps most important of all, New Media is being embraced by the younger generation, which is simultaneously turning its back on the stodgy-looking and outdated “grownup” networks (that means you, Fox and CNN) and traditional media organizations (http://www.newspaperdeathwatch.com/). As a result, newspapers around the country are slowly but surely going out of business. Their business models are dinosaurs stumbling around in tar pits.
And the best news of all, this cycle will feed off itself for the foreseeable future. Young adults grow up seeing the increasing disillusionment shown by their parents for a media system they’ve come to see as “rigged” or simply a tool of the establishment, which in turn spurs the youth to turn their back on the old ways to an even greater degree. What’s more, it’s not the older generation parading before the Internet, but a younger generation building the sites, expressing their opinion, and reporting on the topics that interest them. This trend is accelerating with no end in sight!
ONE LAST POINT
With New Media, corporations are not in charge – the individual is! In fact, there is probably no other medium available in the world more “free market” in nature than the Internet. Any man, woman, or child with a computer and a modem (or a library) can access whatever they want, whenever they want. Virtually anything the mind can imagine or any event that has happened in the remotest corner of the world is readily available on demand, any time of the day or night. If a human being has seen it, it’s probably somewhere on the ‘Net. Hell, it’s probably on YouTube!
As Asimov imagined with his Encyclopedia Galactica, the full breadth of human knowledge and current events exist cybernetically at your fingerprints. Every library in the world available without ever leaving home. And with laptop computers and palm pilots, this amazing technology is even portable.
Taken as a whole, this is nothing short of astounding and Big Media, try as it might, can not truly compete – or even prevent the news of its own corruption from leaking out.