Following up on yesterday’s post about the exceptional opportunity afforded to people willing to embrace a new form of media, I wanted to talk a bit about what that new kind of media will look like. And I’m going to do it using the voice of the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times.
Recently, the Times has published a few articles that look, almost in awe, at the rise of public figures and non-traditional news entities using social media to avoid the traditional media. The first article that caught my attention was titled (appropriately enough), Who Needs Reporters?:
For her big announcement last week, Michele Bachmann neither convened a news conference nor waited for some other moment when she was in public, reporters and television cameras nearby.
She went for something less extemporaneous than any of that, packaging the declaration that she wouldn’t seek a fifth Congressional term in a lacquered online video. It could easily have been mistaken for a campaign ad, with lighting that flattered her, music to her liking and a script that she could read in as many takes as she desired. There was no risk of stammer or flop sweat, no possibility of interruption from reporters itching to challenge her self-aggrandizing version of events.
The reporter bemoans this, saying:
[The] videos […] simply ratchet up the effort to marginalize naysaying reporters and neutralize skeptical reporting. And as Chris Lehane, a Democratic political strategist, pointed out to me, they take a page from corporate America, whose chieftains have used that same format, as opposed to news conferences or interviews, to distribute sensitive communiqués.
The business disruption in the media world caused by the Internet has been well documented. But a monopoly on scoops, long a cherished franchise for established and muscular news organizations, is disappearing. Big news will now carve its own route to the ocean, and no one feels the need to work with the traditional power players to make it happen.
The article then goes on to talk about Glenn Greenwald’s unique position as a newsbreaker and how the media was caught unawares by the NSA snooping story (Between you and me, I don’t know how you can call the Guardian a non-traditional news source.):
“There has been an institutional bias that traditional outlets cling to — that anyone who doesn’t do the things that they do in the way that they do them isn’t doing real journalism,” Mr. Greenwald said in a phone interview. “Since nobody can say that the stories that we did are not serious journalism that has had a very big impact, the last week will forever put an end to that myth.”
And that’s the lesson here. It doesn’t matter who is breaking the story. Whether it’s Deadline Hollywood, the Guardian, Gawker, the New York Times, or me, news will break. For all of the complaining that today’s mass media does, they’ve got just as much ability to break news as I do.
And that’s the secret. I am the new media. You are the new media. They are the new media. Anyone can be. While the media laments their diminished (but absolutely not disappeared) role as, “breakers of news,” there are still other roles in the news-making world that they can fill. They are the ones that can tell the full story of Edward Snowden, they are the ones that can get do in-depth reporting and ferret out lies, they are the ones that can connect dots on disparate stories. Breaking news has been democratized; news reporting is still alive and well.
That is the new media.