I find it fascinating and depressing to watch what’s happening to mainstream media at the moment. In so many ways the big media companies are acting like dinosaurs thrashing about, desperately trying to evolve in an environment they neither understand or are capable of dealing with.
There’s no better example than the TV stations banning Get Up!’s advertising because it criticises Rupert Murdoch. That action has simply galvanised Get Up! to go social and get their ads out their via social media. Now today that’s still imperfect as it probably misses some of the TV audience, but it’ll still work pretty well. In three or five year’s time it’ll work better still and the TV stations will be left wondering why political groups aren’t bothering advertising through them any more.
Although this is a neat example, it’s by far not the only one. TV stations delaying programs so that people end up downloading them instead. Newspapers seeing themselves as a channel rather than a content creator – it is starkly noticeable how many Sydney Morning Herald stories are now sourced from other newspapers that actually send journalists out to do, well, journalism. Or for that matter how many stories you read on Reddit before the Herald or Daily Telegraph even notice they exist. And at least the Herald is trying, which is more than can be said for many other newspapers.
It’s never going to be a pretty thing to watch the death throes of an industry. But what makes this particularly frightening is that in this case the industry involved is a crucial part of our political process. The theory is that our democracy works when we have an informed voting public making informed decisions. And it’s supposed to be the media that provides the information, the analysis, the questions. The process has now become so debased, that the political parties know they can ignore the media or simply use it to propagate carefully manufactured fluff that wont be analysed or dissected. And in an information-poor environment we all suffer. Sadly as big media thrashes about in the tar pit, it’s hurting us all.
We really need the little furry media alternatives to hurry up and evolve.