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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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