A panel at the MilBloggers Conference provided a very interesting discussion earlier this month. The main point of the meeting is that the news media now “follows” the military differently. The three panelists (from the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico) were all a little different: one communicates with service members; one searches a combination of classic sources (papers, broadcast, etc.) and new media (Twitter, blogs, etc); and one works through the night to publish a blog-like product on the breaking stories.
The new media of Web 3.0 has pressured reporters to “get a story” as fast as possible. Often a story breaks on Twitter, then becomes a blog, next an online story, and finally ends up as a print or broadcast story. Each step of this evolution adds information, context and editing, but it inevitably puts a lot of emphasis on immediacy. There is much less of a “tyranny” of the daily deadline, but this has created a constant drumbeat for information NOW.
The panel was asked if this effect has created a tabloid-type, low quality product today. One said “no,” but thought there was more self-selection of news (only reading things with which they agree). Another said “no,” because numbers of available sources have grown. The third thought that there was now more options available, and that was a positive development.
Reporters claim they do not mind and are not threatened by blogs. They all agreed that blogs add a valuable corrective and much positive context.
The bottom line is simple. The world of information has changed. The game is no longer micromanaged by a small minority. The big news agencies are diversifying and still own the majority of oxygen in the media space. That said, the “people” have a much greater voice than they have ever had before. There is not equality between the professional media and the burgeoning world of largely unpaid bloggers and commentators who use new media to communicate. There may never be a full equality between them, but the latter group has changed the landscape and are holding the traditional outlets’ feet to the fires of truth.
Keep it up. The Nation is better for it.