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Ironically, I was listening to a podcast by the Financial Post about Canadians heavy use of credit cards, when I read their tweet about Canwest filing for bankruptcy protection.  Canwest was unable to make its interest payment on its $4Billion debt, among other things.

For Canadians unfamiliar with the name Canwest, think:  Global TV and the National Post.

It was one thing to cheekily forecast the Great Fall of corporate Big Media.  But I find myself anxious as empire after empire actually does crumple.

My friend Pete tweets:  Monopoly capitalism only benefits the monopolist & the politicians they fund to create, maintain, & protect the monopoly.  With media monopoly capitalism consumers suffer, less innovation, less diversity, higher prices, more homogenized content, etc.

Certainly this has seemed the dominant view in the blogosphere as citizen journalism has ascended.  There was an impassioned hope that we would get less news shaped by those with money and power, and more news from diverse and formerly marginalized voices.  In short, the news would become re-democratized.   This was something easy to get excited about!

I have three concerns that temper my enthusiasm.

  1. No successful business model has been established for new, democratized media that I know of.  Is NowPublic profitable, for instance?  What if there were no traditional media left, and no sustainable business model for citizen journalism emerges?  At the end of the day, money is the difference between ongoing news, or chaotic bits & bytes of news, or silence.
  2. I believe trained journalists are better at sussing out and relaying stories than the rest of us.  I know, I know, multiple truths and all that … but … some of us are more diligent at fact-checking and at knowing which questions to ask and at knowing where to find reliable information than others.  As media empires shed off trained and experienced journalists, I’m not confident that the crowds of volunteers who replace them will provide the same quality of stories.
  3. Hyper-local news has its place but I also want global information sifted through and collated in some fashion and that requires economy of scale.  I have yet to see (but would be happy to be proven wrong) a non-corporate site that can pull off acquiring footage and information gleaned from around the world.

In short, it was invigorating to watch the rise of the little guys in the mighty world of The News, but as it looks more and more likely that the giant is truly slain, I’m wondering if it will all work out in the end, or not.

Readers, what do you think?  Is the time of traditional media truly over?  Are you confident we will find equally reliable sources of news not fed to us from corporations with vested interests?


Photo credit:  AllAboutGeorge

About the Author


Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

4 Comments

  1. Nancy, I’m glad you posted about this topic. I must first say that it is a very complex topic and I am no expert but I try to take in as much in as possible.
    I closing follow the work of Jeff Jarvis who blogs at http://buzzmachine.com and http://newsinnovation.com and other experts studying the change. I don’t want to believe that traditional media is done and I hope it isn’t. That being said there is obviously going to have to be change and we are seeing that here. New Media is taking control but like you say it does not yet have a plan and that is what is needed.
    As for the hyperlocal blog I run, http://ykonline.ca, there will be some changes coming in the next month. I’m very excited but at the same time very nervous about it.
    This is definitely something I am and will continue to follow closely.
    Kyle.

    [Reply]

    Oct 06, 2009
  2. David

    I think the traditional media shot itself in the foot by refusing to be more adaptable to the threat from new media. For generations, traditional media controlled the flow of information and, in my opinion, abused it by using “news” as a means of promoting the politics, values, and world views that they hold. No problem with that generally–if they are transparent in their biases. However, most readers have figured that while the traditional media purports to be neutral and unbiased, they are not. With the wide availability of alternative sources for news, more and more people are opting to forego traditional newspapers, news magazines, and news broadcasts for other media. However dubious the accuracy of other sources may be, the fact that people are turning to them is a vote of no confidence in traditional media and a reaction to the suspicion that traditional media is just serving up propaganda in the guise of objective journalism.
    The business of journalism is to sell advertising. Advertisers aren’t going to put their money in vehicles that are hemorraging readers/viewers daily.

    [Reply]

    Oct 06, 2009
  3. I think it’s wonderful live in an era with so many information streams. Bloggers give valuable information, but people will still pay for content that is unique, and gathering news is a full-time job that some people will always value.
    I don’t understand why people expect journalists to work for free. I see people steal newspapers, but would they go take food from the store?
    Because food is free too right, grows in the ground. So bizarre.

    [Reply]

    Oct 06, 2009
  4. brad

    Having been a journalist for 10 years, and having worked alongside journalists from big-name media (New York Times, National Public Radio, Times of London, the Independent, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, etc.), I always bridle at suggestions such as David’s that traditional media are just “serving up propaganda in the guise of objective journalism.” Sure, there are some that do it: Fox News is an example from the right; Michael Moore’s documentaries are an example from the left. But most of the journalists I encountered worked in organizations that placed firewalls between editorial and advertising, diligently checked facts, and truly aimed for objectivity. I did see personal biases come through, but in several cases the most biased reporters ended up being reassigned to other beats when it became clear they were twisting the facts to serve their agenda. My experience was that objectivity was less important to most European journalists, who tended to view themselves as activists, whereas North American journalists tended to view themselves more as reporters.

    I agree with Nancy that there’s a big difference between a trained journalist and a blogger. I would be sad to see traditional media disappear. On the other hand I would be happy to see it all go online only (I haven’t bought a paper newspaper in at least a decade).

    I have a lot more faith in the accuracy of news that’s been brought to me by a team of trained professionals who’ve set up systems of checks and balances to try to get the facts right and minimize editorializing. I have no delusions that any journalism is truly objective, but there are degrees of objectivity. The best journalism is that which tells you what happened as accurately as possible and leaves you to decide what you think about it.

    [Reply]

    Oct 07, 2009

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