17 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 12 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

The Media Shift from Them to Us

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Message Danny Schechter
LONDON, MAY 8: The brilliant novelist and media- maker Afshin Rattansi opens his provocative London novels, "The Dream of the Decade," with this quote from the Italian dissident Antonio Gramsci: "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born."

His last section tells a fictionalized story of his experience working for "The Corporation" in a place called Television Centre, a sprawling labrynth of a headquarters "for which there is no map."

He writes, "another producer who had been getting lost a lot joked to his editor that if, somehow, everyone at the corporation died, they would have to send explorers into the building to map the place out in the manner of Vasco Da Gamma or Columbus."

This is a metaphoric reference to the BBC's production emporium in London's White City where I spent a day last week discussing the ways Big Media lost its way, and is struggling hard to map out a new strategy to regain public trust. That occasion was the pricey "We Media" conference, co-sponsored by Reuters, in association with a U.S. think tank called The Media Center. It discussed how the media system has to adopt new technologies and ways of working or die.

Mapping out the contours of the emerging media system is now on the agenda of consumers and creators in consciousness industries all over the world. Suddenly, many major media combines""perhaps still more outside America than in""have put aside their institutional arrogance and realized that their traditional approach is no longer selling. Some also recognize that they are driving viewers away with sleazy infotainment and a decontextualized emphasis on breaking or "rolling" news.

Leading executives are now interested in moving beyond broadcasting into broadband, integrating so-called user-generated content like citizens journalism including blogs, podcasts, videos and photos. They are opening their doors to "the people" while insisting, at they same time, they will not "lower standards" of accuracy, impartiality, balance and other boilerplate blah-blah.

The headline on the BBC's internal newspaper Ariel shouts "Reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated," a play on Mark Twain's dicta about a premature obituary he once read about himself. The Corporation's chief Mark Thompson has promulgated a gutsy new policy with technologies that give the audience new ways to "find, play and share" programming when they want to enjoy it. Global News chief Richard Sambrook admits that the world's most popular news organization BBC with 16 million internet users worldwide, despite its flaws wants more public input and not just as filler. Don't be passive""participate--is the new mantra.

Finally, some of the mighty voices of media authority and their know-it all gatekeepers of content are realizing they don't have all the answers and that maybe, just maybe, their viewers and listeners have a right to be heard and have something to say beyond sending in eyewitness video or catchy camera-phone pix.

My own voyage of exploration in this media shift has taken me in just a few months to what seems like a non-stop global talkathon of endless conferences, forums, workshops, panels and debates in places like Slovenia and Copenhagen, from one side of London to another and the wild east of Kazakhstan, with a pit stop in Newark New Jersey. In all of these locales, I have been doing some speaking but more listening.

As the frequent flyer miles pile up undermined by the jet lag, I find myself engaged in this same search, asking what can we who want a better and more democratic media system do differently to keep up with fast moving trends of change. How can we attract audiences and build a movement for change?

The discourse is not academic or contrived. Necessity remains the mother of invention. Wherever I go, I carry my critique on what's wrong with modern journalism in the form of books and videos in my luggage but some of it already feels tired or obsolete as if we are already in a post-journalism age where millions want to hear the sound of their own voices much more than my own or those of other "professional" practitioners and pundits.

In every location, the business buzz bristles with innovative ideas, new software and reluctant acknowledgements that the media system is being changing radically and that a new generation doesn't want what many of the media companies have been offering.

New satellite channels""the subject of a conference backed by UNESCO that I later attended at Copenhagen's Business School""are fragmenting the audience even more into special interest slivers. Most are offering more of the same but the Arabic news channels and others targeted to ethnic minorities and diasporic communities are offering impactful programming with different outlooks and programming,

As they say, "the cheese is moving" with the big companies plunging into the digital future with hopes of dominating it as totally as they have the analog world. The Telecom giants are subverting "net neutrality." Rupert Murdoch has bought Myspace.com. Big advertising agencies are using sites like You Tube and Rocket Boom to plant hype for products with cool new videos that don't look like conventional ads. They want to control what they call the internet "space" and make it their own. These private interests are shrinking the public space and subverting commitments to public interest and service.

Unfortunately, many are using bottom-up content to help them keep top down control. For them it's a way to "enhance" their commercial products and infuse them with the aura of populism. They have realized they can add bottom-up creativity and diverse points of view without diluting their corporate narrative which usually denies (and conceals) that it has any point of view. They don't care what you say as long as they can get it to pay.

On the positive side, Reuters has made a deal to distribute Global Voices online, a valuable aggregator of blogs from around the world while BBC is encouraging citizen engagement.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Danny Schechter Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Israel Gives All Jews A Bad Name

Is There A Threat of Fascism in the USA?

Free Marketers Going After Occupy Wall Street --Danny Schechter




To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend