In the third chapter of his book Here Comes Everybody, author Clay Shirky brings up several thought-provoking points. The chapter discusses the evolution of the news and the new ways in which news is transmitted to the public. Shirky recounts the ‘olden days’ when journalists and editors controlled what events and topics were ‘newsworthy’ and worthy of the public’s attention (or the staff’s own agenda). Essentially the news was exclusive and only a select few of individuals had access to it. That all changed with the internet and the easy access that it gave to the entire world. Shirky starts the chapter with a tale about his family’s newspaper business. When the newspaper USA Today debuted everyone was in a tizzy and feared the influence of the paper in the industry. As we all know and Skirky explains, the newspaper industry had no idea what was about to hit it with incorporation of the internet news sources.
I personally think that online news sources are wonderful. The author used the example of the ding-bat politician (I can’t remember his name and nor do I care to) from Mississippi who said a racist comment at a major event and at super inappropriate time (is there ever an appropriate time for racist comments? Probs not. But this was a huge event in front lots of people!) The majority of traditional news sources attending the event did not even mention the comment. It was up to online sources and the general online community to call out the man’s error. The real advantage is that the internet gives more power to the people and gives more people access to information and the “privilege” of news. This wasn’t specifically mentioned in the article but another advantage is that online news sources and publications are better for the environment. I know some people roll their eyes at this, but it’s an important point y’all!
A potential disadvantage of the “mass amateurization” of the news is that with so many people blogging and so much information being thrown at our heads every second it can be difficult to root through all sources to find the credible ones. “Amateurization” also brings up the point of who is considered a journalist. Shirky writes about this and uses the example of journalist immunity. With such easy access to information and the ability to create and share information, how will we establish and define a journalist? This is an important aspect that will need to be addressed and determined in the future.
As for the future of media and communications, it’s evitable that there will be some casualties. Traditional newspapers may even disappear entirely. Is this sad? Yes. Will there be nostalgia and fond memories about hopping down your grandparent’s porch steps to pick up the morning newspaper on the lawn? Yes. But as Shirky says about scribes, they were extremely important but when they disappeared it was bittersweet because it meant that society has a whole had greatly improved. The same will be said about printed sources; they were important and great but their end meant the start of something new and beneficial for our society as a whole.