Jim Zoes posted the following thoughtful comment on my story “Those Pesky Bloggers.”
This is old news, in fact.
Back in 1993 and 1994, some were waking up to the fact that the Internet paradigm was changing everything.
Before blogs and chat rooms, and before the World Wide Web was dominant, there was USENET (short for users network). USENET was a distributed processing architecture of servers around the world.
A person could compose an article, post it in his ISP’s USENET server, which would automatically distribute it every other USENET server in the world.
Generally, within 24 hours, the ideas presented were available to any who bothered to look. In 1993 and 1994, there was email and USENET.
It is how debate took place.
Debate and discussion were facilitated by USENET, grouped by category.
But even back then, the world changed.
I participated in a discussion about traditional news papers and TV news, with the editors of TIME Magazine.
They could not see the coming tsunami of information flow, even when it was right in front of them.
My discussion was picked up by an author and republished in a book.
What follows is an excerpt of my contribution to that book, “The Effect of the Net on the Professional News Media: The Usenet News Collective – The Man-Computer News Symbiosis,” by Michael Hauben, http://www.columbia.edu/~hauben/CS/net-and-newsmedia.txt
“This writer believes that you (the traditional press) face the same challenge that the monks in the monastery faced when Gutenberg started printing Bibles.”
[Zoes, Jim (1994, July 22). “Re: TIME Cover Story: pipeline to editors” in USENET Newsgroup: alt.internet.media-coverage]
“Your top-down model of journalism allows traditional media to control the debate, and even if you provide opportunity for opposing views, the editor
*always* had the last word. In the new paradigm, not only do you not necessarily have the last word, you no longer even control the flow of the debate.”
“The growth and acceptance of email, coupled with discussion groups (Usenet) and mail lists provide for a “market place of ideas” hitherto not possible since perhaps the days of the classic Athenians.”
The reason is that the Internet is a 2-way communication channel.
Newsapers and TV news is 1 directional only.
This 2-way channel effectively ended the “gatekeeper” function of the reporters and editors, by allowing anyone to be a “news disseminator.”
And the result of its effect on the “market place of ideas” is staggering:
First of all, the traditional method of distributing information was immediately obsoleted.
Couple in a search engine that would provide the links to web pages that would contain information sought, and you had a methodology for myriad groups of people to discuss ideas, or comment on the world.
Now, Cal’s blog requires registration to upload comments.
And Cal retains complete control of the content – after all, it’s his blog.
However, unlike the traditional news outlets, the computer on my desk (or in my smart phone) is also a content distributor.
If I choose (or if Cal decides that he doesn’t want me commenting on his blog), I can start my own blog.
I could call it “The Other McHenry County Blog” or even “Cal’s all wet, here’s the truth blog”
Just about every news paper in America and every television network has bowed to the inevitable and included some form of “comment section,” even the Northwest Herald (though they disabled theirs for a 2 week period).
The possibility that an individual’s ideas could be read – and influence the opinions of millions of others – quickly became a major headache for the major dailies and TV networks. It was quickly noticed. For example:
“Consider this: My $1000 PC is now a personal broadcasting station that reaches more people than the CBS affiliate in Washington D.C. I can get more local viewers with a single e-mail posting to the Internet than Sally Jessy Raphael can get in a single sweeps month … (Hey Washington Post! POOF! You’re a newsletter!)”
[Paul McCloskey, Forward to “The Internet for Dummies,” IDG Books Worldwide,
Inc., San Mateo, CA, 1993]
Up until the personal computer with an Internet connection, it was economically infeasonable to try to “go around the gatekeeper.”
Now, the gatekeeper has been steamrollered.
The leftstream media (ironically using the Internet to coordinated their message – like the “JournoLst” email list) still does not “get it.”
Witness how quickly Dan Rather got taken down when he published forged documents purporting to claim that President Bush was AWOL in the Air National Guard. In less the 12 hours, the fraud was detected. Within 24 hours, the mechanism on how it was done was determined – and explained to the world. And in 48 hours, Rather’s long career in broadcast journalism was destroyed.
The leftstream media succeeded in fooling most of America into voting for Obama, but has been flat out unable to keep independent voters in line, as the November 2010 election proved.
Because other “higher quality” (in terms of spin) news was available elsewhere.
There was talk radio, which is the Rightstream media for all practical purposes.
But more importantly, there were independent news sites – not just news for the right, but newspapers from around the world,
You would be surprised at how much news about America is found in FOREIGN online newspapers.
News that our media “spikes” – such as the nasty signs being carried by pro-union supporters in Madison recently.
But the pictures of the left equating Walker with Hitler could be seen on other media that was not in journalism lockstep in trying to make the protesters look like angels.
Did the national news organizations report the death threats against Republicans in Wisconsin?
But the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee did, as did the local county/city papers in the state.
And you could bypass the “gate” that the Leftstream media by simply reading the local papers online, like the LaCrosse Tribune, which detailed the threats and vandalism against their Republican state Senator.
Katy Couric gave the impression that all was sweetness and light in Madison.
That it was a peaceful demonstration of solidarity, with little if any mention of the vandalism damage to the capitol building OR the death threats against the Republicans.
Storming a state capitol building is a scary thing to see. The screaming, the profanity, the pushing and shoving, is a violent act.
So very little from the Networks and CNN.
But the Journal Sentinel had it. The independent bloggers and pundits had it. Everybody with a camera phone even had it on video, which was quickly uploaded to YouTube.
The Leftstream media thought they controlled the flow of information – that they were still the “Holy GateKeepers.”
They were wrong, and their empire has collapsed into the dust.
And I think that this is a good thing for our Republic.
I wrote a piece which Google eliminated along with the rest of my stories form 2005 to about 2007 about how democracy needs to have more than one news source. Even had a source,Robert Dahl’s book “On Democracy,” another of whose books (“Who Governs”) I read at Oberlin College in Aaron Wildavski’s government class.
Here is Dahl’s take on the need for alternative news sources:
“WHY DOES DEMOCRACY REQUIRE THE AVAILABILITY OF ALTERNATIVE AND INDEPENDENT SOURCES OF INFORMATION?
“Like freedom of expression, the availability of alternative and relatively independent sources of information is required by several of the basic democratic criteria Consider the need for enlightened understanding. How can citizens acquire the information they need in order to understand the issues if the government controls all the important sources of information?
“Or, for that matter, if any single group enjoys a monopoly in providing information? Citizens must have access, then, to alternative sources of information that are not under the control of the government or dominated by any other group or point of view.
“Or think about effective participation and influencing the public agenda. How could citizens participate effectively in political life if all the information they could acquire was provided by a single source, say the government, or, for that matter, a single party, faction, or interest?”
My hope is that McHenry County Blog helps provide that.