03.18.2013 08:26 AM

Die, big media, die

This study doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.

Its findings will be endlessly analyzed and re-analyzed, naturally, but to no effect. You’ve heard it all before. The end result is the same: the traditional media continues to slowly die, and traditional media types don’t know how to stop it.

One of their claims irritates or amuses me, depending on the day. It’s their claim that democracy itself is at risk, because they alone are the people who safeguard democracy.

Their solipsism is breathtaking. It is beyond arrogant.

The reason why big media are dying is because of democracy – not despite democracy. As I wrote early this month, here, it is big media themselves who digitized everything they do, mostly so they could maximize profit.

As historians of the era will note, that’s how they screwed themselves on an epic scale. It was a delicious Marxist irony: with digitization, they placed the means of media production in the hands of average folks. Average folks thereupon took the ball and ran with it.

That isn’t AGAINST democracy, corporate media! THAT IS DEMOCRACY.

This web site (not blog!) has been going for over a decade. Since re-design, it’s had well over six million visitors.

That’s not because Yours Truly is particularly insightful or innovative. I don’t think I’m either, in fact.

Web sites like this one are read because citizens like the idea of citizen media. They don’t like hearing from the same old voices all the time, about the same old stuff. They like being able to contribute themselves, if they are moved to do so.

They think democracy is improved, not diminished, by more voices. And, along the way, if that means that corporate media bosses have to find new ways of doing things, or find new lines of work?

Well, tough shit. That’s democracy.


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    Chris says:

    Warren, one of the most appealing things about this site is that you appear to wear your biases on your sleeve. You make no apologies for your opinions, and when you are pushing a cause you are upfront about it.

    Every single word I read in a mainstream news source has to go through a series of questions (who is paying for this, who are the advertisers, who is the writer, who is the editor that assigned the story) before you can even begin to accept what it is saying.

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    Anne Peterson says:

    Well, maybe it’s because way deep inside most Canadians is the peculiar notion that the media should hold government to account and also should tell the truth – all the truth. Where is the truth about the salmon crisis? Where is the complete truth about the tar sands – how it uses astronomical amounts of water and natural gas? Only in the Tyee do we learn the complete truth. The whole truth about Chavez? Not everything about his regime is bad. They speak about his putting money into helping the poor as though that is a crime. Where are the main stream media voices yammering for a resolution to the robo calls election fraud? The Del Mastro election fraud? Thank goodness for alternate media voices. Love the Tyee, love The Agenda, love Chris Hayes in the Morning, even love Huffington Post and especially love Progressive Bloggers.

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      smelter rat says:


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      MoS says:

      You’re spot on, Anne. Through concentration of ownership and media cross-ownership, Canada’s news media has become a corporatist cartel. Cable companies have become owners and content providers. Telecom utilities have become owners and content providers. Ever fewer voices churning out predictable and targeted information, more often than not in the form of messaging rather than actual news. In the process they have gone from being the watch dog of government into government’s lapdog, each in symbiotic service to the other. There was a time we realized that democracy depended on a robust, independent mass media, widely held, and offering the widest range of opinion to better and more fully inform the public. CanWest was instrumental in dismembering that policy, along with Bell and Quebecor and others and it’s never coming back until we force divestiture.

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      frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

      Well said Anne!…..love the Tyee as well…..esp that loveable curmudgeon Rafe Mair……

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        Take Two says:

        Yes, and La Pre$$e, Le $oleil, La Tri%une, Le N@uvelliste, Le Dr@it, Le Qu@tidien (not to mention Granm@*) never had any bias…

        “On the occasion of your election as President of the People‚Äôs Republic of (hina, I extend to you warmest congratulations in the name of the (uban people and government. We are convinced that, under your leadership, this sister country will achieve new successes in the building of $ocialism.”

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    ray says:

    don’t replace what you’ve got until what you’ve got has been replaced and the sooner the better.

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    J.W. says:

    The sad thing is the traditional media became irrelevant when it voluntarily left the only business which could have kept it alive. I mean public service, investigative reporting, yes, muckraking, holding governments to account, all that stuff about afflicting the comfortable etc.
    We have a talking point, spin delivery, press conference, news release media, for the most part in the back pocket of governments and individual power brokers such as cabinet members, and business elites. Harper runs Ottawa all of Ottawa, like a mediaeval Lord of the manor.
    To be fair the Americans have a much more independent, tough, relevant media especially on TV, but even some papers, magazines and and a huge variety of political web sites.
    Our political TV shows full of talking point, predictable, politicians and paid consultants who never say anything dangerous. And I see Sun as a branch plant of the Conservative Party, loud but useless.
    So we have to go to the small, individual, democratic based, free speech outlets as you say.
    As you have said Warren, it is so hilarious that the Globe would think that I would actually pay for my own right wing propaganda. Yea, let me pay to have you brainwash me!

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    KP says:

    Victoria’s got it pretty good, though. TWO Postmedia newspapers. Now they can get both Ivison AND Blatchford. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Err, wait, what’s the opposite of that?

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    Billy boy says:

    I wouldn’t be too quick to celebrate the death of mainstream print journalism. Without it, bloggers, I mean citizen journos, would have little to leech from and link to. As partisan and polarized as the MSM is, citizen journalism operates largely within an echo chamber that reproduces and reinforces ideological orthodoxy.

    I don’t want to defend big journalism. I’m deeply suspicious of the prejudiced nature of MSM and of the lack of journalists with real integrity and intellectual honesty. But I fear without them it would be even worse.

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      Justin says:

      I know what you mean. I got into a heated argument with a coworker over inoculations for children. Because he read on a blog about Jenny mccarthy’s anti-vac cause he was convinced that children should no longer get vaccinated, going into some diatribe about big-pharma, big conspiracy, were doomed. The Internet is a great tool but critical thinking goes out the door.

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    Marta Janicka says:

    Agreed; the claim that the decline of traditional media equals the decline of democracy is spurious. The decline of representative democracy was largely due to the traditional media – one could use the example of Joseph Goeb@bels basing his propaganda on Edward Bernays’ “Engineering Consent” (Chomsky obviously borrowed from this title).

    Disagree; the new media allows for a level of micro-targeted propaganda that allows an intensity of active measures* that totalitarian regimes mere decades ago could only dream of. Philip K. Dick came close to it with his “empathy box”:

    “my dear… when you take hold of these handles you’re no longer watching Wilbur Mercer. You’re actually participating in his apotheosis. Why, you’re feeling what he feels… An empathy box,” he said, stammering in his excitement, “is the most personal possession you have (iphone!). It’s an extension of your body; it’s the way you touch other humans, it’s the way you stop being alone.”

    Bots have long being culling over vast databases to decide the best media, the most enticing and seductive media through which to implant their personal message. Next time you are sitting on a train, look around at the spaced out masses chimping over the crack-addictive little flickering screen. Thought control is here to stay. Is there a way out of this wilderness of mirrors?

    *Active Measures all the time: change the perception of reality of everyone to such an extent, that despite the abundance of information, no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interests of defending themselves, their families, their community.

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    Alex says:

    I completely agree with you Warren. Professional journalists like to define “journalism” as institutions that sell news, while in reality it is an activity that the population at large is increasingly doing. What I don’t understand, however, is your strong view on web site vs. blog. I don’t see blogging in a negative light; quite the contrary, I view blogs as the future of journalism. That being said, I think web site vs. blog really boils down to semantics.

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    Iris Mclean says:

    Is Mansbridge still standing up while reading the news?
    I read somewhere that he’s been standing up for the last few years.
    I hope he is collecting some sort of discomfort compensation.

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    Steve T says:

    Here’s the problem, and the reason MSM won’t be gone tomorrow – there is still, in the end, a relative comfort that what you are hearing in the MSM is generally true. While much of the MSM has a subtle bias, most of it is just that – subtle. They won’t typically say black if the truth is white. By contrast, the internet is a complete crapshoot. You really can get black disguised as white. As much as it may be trendy to slag corporate ownership of MSM, at least you know there is a corporation behind it, who fears legal liability. The internet has no such accountability. So, you as the reader are left to judge whether what you are reading is truth, opinion, or opinion trying to pretend to be truth.

    I think we will eventually get to some sort of mechanism to separate the wheat from the chaff for online news, but we aren’t there yet. I may go to the internet to seek out political opinions and discourse, but when I want news – as in, a summary of what actually occurrred in the world – I still go to MSM.

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    Elizabeth says:

    I don’t mind the MSM, I’m just fed up with their opinions and their notion of what we should and shouldn’t read – oh and that conviction they seem to hold that the non-journalist peasantry are all idiots, prone to hysteria.

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