The digital age of media is here. It has planted its foot firmly in the mud of the mass media, bringing with it bloggers, uploads, downloads and community outreach. The Web has become the very definition of mass media, while it seems newspapers are being squashed underneath the shoe of the digital age. So how does a technological phenomena like the Internet beat down the media giant, newspapers, who has been around for centuries and so quickly?
The answer may lie in a story from Gannett online communities editor, Linda Parker regarding the Enquirer's recently successful comment section, "Get Published." Parker said of the section, "It used to read, 'Be a Citizen Journalist.' And no one ever clicked on it. Then we called it 'Neighbor to Neighbor,' and still nothing. For some reason, 'Get Published' was the magic phrase," (Howe, 2007). It seems that citizens were not interested in being journalists or in communicating with their neighbors. Everyday people were finding empowerment in being published, (Howe,2007).
A similar empowerment was described in The Ten Forces that Flattened the World when Mike Arguello, an IT systems architect said, "IT people tend to be very bright people and they want everybody to know just how brilliant they are," (Friedman, p. 97). Regular citizens are putting their ideas online for everyone to see. Blogs, podcasts, chat rooms and social media sites are only a few of the outlets being used by people looking to validate their obsession with being published, with putting their ideas out for all to see. So is it the realization of the marketplace of ideas, or simply a platform for random thoughts that are thrown haphazardly onto the Web with little or no impact on anyone but the author?
Friedman describes bloggers as, "one-person online commentators, who often link to one another depending on their ideology, and have created a kind of open-source newsroom," (Friedman, p. 117). In theory, an open-source newsroom could be the key to great news. It would create more watchdogs over corporations, government and other groups which tend to take advantage of everyday people. In this nearly perfect newsroom, the topics would be significant to readers, information would be accurate and mistakes would be almost obsolete with millions of editors.
The reality is this perfect newsroom does not exist as is should. Commentary has taken the lead role over news, objectivity is nowhere to be found and information has become infotainment. The lines between commentary and news, between necessary information and tabloid talk, between truth and lies has blurred and without trained journalists who constantly seek the truth and divorce themselves from the information, the line will disappear forever.
Boundaries must be distinguished between bloggers and journalists, between the news and gossip, for our democracy to flourish. After all, "Democracy is the worst kind of government, besides all the others," (class notes, Oct. 8). Without a true marketplace of ideas our democracy cannot flourish.