Saturday, March 08, 2008

Cheap News: Industry "News" Remixes and Democracy 2.0

I have read much on the issue of "broken" news, where there is a colourization of the real news noticed with the "witness" function diminished. In the U.S. context, this is taken as a threat to the workings of their democracy. They see it and talk about it.

I tend to buy in to this as it affects Canada. I view as a consequence my sources of information much more critically yet I know I am only partially immune to a cumulative effect or in some cases an annoyance factor, that seems to get to me when I see the truth stretched as I perceive it. In other cases, very good solid journalism is present, rightfully provocative, and well that is why it is tuned in, hence the "mainstream" of the MSM.

I also confess here some "closet" journalism at Northworthy. Many of my blog postings are original and attributed "publicly" to digital media sources. It is a Digital Age thing where bloggers can get to the story the MSM cannot for whatever reason. My "publisher" is myself and this is not done for advertising or personal notoriety. It is done however perhaps in a perceived civic duty, in a very noisy World 2.0 way: there are many people blogging in this fashion, exercising a perceived civic duty that is newly available to the "Democratic" mind (others have called the "hive" and more).

Did I mention "civic" duty? This is not for the people who stick their head in the sand, or suffer emotional discordance from the use of fear as the weapon of choice in the contemporaneous polity.

This civic duty is the concept where if you live in a democracy, while you have rights within the state to your freedoms, as we Canadians do expressly since 1982, you also have a parallel obligation back to that democracy, to keep it functioning well by participation.

I see this as well enabled in the Digital Age as people want to know what their representatives are doing and they want their input known.

More broadly, "we the people" want a mutual recognition that there is this messy business of democracy when making decisions "executive" in nature on our behalf. Democracy 2.0 is going on now, and it puts the reminder out there squarely, that the government and those entrusted electively with it supervision, exists to serve the people, and not vice versa.

Today it is apparent that a Canadian Senator or MP can get 200 or 2,000 emails or be aware that 25,000 Canadians or more have formed up in 5 or 10 days (here, here), on an issue that matters to them. This should get the message across versus the one from this or that association, or this or that person that may have incited this reaction. Their elective trust can become rapidly ephemeral with their integrity implicitly threatened if they ignore the totality of the messages.

Strikingly this week, a short exchange occurred that saw a claim made by one Liberal MP of receiving hundreds e-mail v. the poor backbench Tory who self-stated his irrelevance to his constituents by claiming to have received only one.

The MSM itself too has to consider the rights it has been granted (considerable under copyright law as well) have concomitant civic obligations with them, that if neglected, in the Democracy 2.0 world, may with great rapidity swiftly injure any publisher's interests, possibly with no second chance.

The "press" as a "witness" for us to news worthy events we ought to know about, has a fine line between the "text" - the content - and the owner of the news channel, the Publisher, who is in turn dependent on "sponsors." This line will be more readily discernible in a Web 2.0 world, and unless it is cross-subsidized by "interests" and disclosed as by or for special interests, or in a different competitive setting where there is public sponsorship, the line must be vigorously self-enforced.

And that itself raises a last issue, that if the words used with respect to Bill C-10 are similarly applied to the continued sponsorship of the CBC, such that "public policy" concerns become the "right" subject to continued funding, the CBC itself in Canada, becomes a next in line victim to what our film and television production industry faces right now.

[Julianna Yau picked up the CARFAC "press" release that no news media outlet will dare "mine" solely "Government to Censor Made-in-Canada Productions," Toronto International Film Festival Group News Release "In Defence of Offence" (look at the economic and cultural spin-offs this group pulls in here).]

If the production of news becomes perceived by the viewer as mimicry from well funded sources, political or corporate, it then becomes a more obvious battle over who has access to create such news. This in turn raises questions to whether a plutocracy should be substituted for our democracy, knowingly by the people, or insidiously, in known observations.

But that choice is known to be not unacceptable to free people. It won't sell soap. It won't be bought. It cannot enter the present public appetite, where the state can ask our kin to defend it for democracy, where we can freely volunteer to do the same, and sadly many of "us" have already fallen for democracy.

The eventual solution we see occurring is in the slower steps now started, to restore the MSM balance, so that citizen journalists can work in a better partnership with the MSM to generate the positive debates to get the issues settled right for everyone's benefit, beyond executive fiat. The awareness of the MSM 'bias' and the sharp rise in the Web 2.0 universe, and channel diversity should bring about a healing of the "broken" news. The blog universe has quietly with usually high latency, slowness, has fed back into MSM reportage and into the political arena. Soon that latency, will reduce, and the healthy symbiotic relationships should be quite interesting to see fully develop.

Until then, if one uses a lens to viewing a "story telling" rather than a "witnessing" while one may be annoyed that such a lens has to be used, in some sense, any "chains" you feel or threats to freedoms, are thrown off. The truth here, indeed, sets you free.

The very MSM ratings that advertisers depend on for their valued function in our economy will get the message across squarely. The lack of comments and implied relevance for the MSM will be their own "canary in a coal mine" as it would be for any politician, and it will be their choice, to take the message appropriately, or to disappear.

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