The Year of the Blogger: Self-Empowered Leadership
Print media has been around for some time–actually a very long time. In 59 BC Roman leader–make that dictator– Julius Caesar ordered the creation of a series of bulletins from his government, or what were officially called Acta Diruna (Daily Acts). Carved in stone or metal, these bulletins were posted in public areas. A couple of hundred years later, China’s Han Dynasty produced government (imperial) bulletins on blocks of wood.
Fast forward to the mid-1500s when the Government of Venice produced handwritten monthly newsletters (Notizie scritte) aimed at conveying economic, military and political information to the public. France and England got in on the act in the 1600s, with England’s first A Current of General News first published in 1622. The Gazette de France followed in 1632. And your correspondent’s favorite news source The Economist, founded in 1843, has proved its staying power in a media-fueled world.
The introduction of radio in 1920 caused a seismic wave in print media, followed several decades later with the advent of television in the 1950s. And, of course, the introduction of the internet has caused turmoil to both print and television news.
Inject the initial creep and subsequent explosion of blogging in the past decade and you have a recipe for information overload. Everyone, from big shot journalists to small-town reporters to alternative online news sources to independent bloggers, is vying for attention–in most cases just a small piece of the action (except for the big shot news anchors).
Competition is healthy, whether you’re selling laundry soap, motor vehicles or news. Once upon a time, as noted in the introduction to this post, writing for the masses was in effect a monopoly. Over time, especially as the 20th Century proceeded, competition increased as print media, radio and TV battled it out. The state of affairs early in the 21st Century has become nothing short of a street-fight for Joe Public’s attention.
As much as we’re all drowning in information overload, the key point to remember is that we now have one main thing: CHOICE.
That trend is big name journalists and conventional news anchors who have disgraced themselves due to hubristic acts, either in the name of bolstering their apparently weak self-esteems or their lack of personal ethics.
The venerable Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s branding strategy places a lot of emphasis on its heavyweight TV and radio personalities, from the disgraced Jian Ghomeshi (charged with sexual assault) to Evan Solomon (recently fired for breaking the corporation’s ethics code of conduct) and Amanda Lang who narrowly escaped getting sacked for conflict of interest and allegedly biased reporting due to her relationship with a senior RBC executive.
Then there’s columnist Margaret Wente’s plagiarism which got her suspended temporarily from Toronto’s Globe & Mail and sacked from CBC’s media panel.
The list goes on with Global News Leslie Roberts resigning for conflict of interest acts.
In the United States, there have been numerous instances of professional misconduct by TV and print journalists. Witness NBC’s news anchor Brian Williams, whose years of trips to various corners of the world produced a number of inflated reports–okay, the guy lied.
And then there are ABC’s Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos (undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation) and New York Times writer Jayson Blair who in 2003 was exposed for fabricating stories and plagiarism.
What’s going on here? As Steve Paikin of TV Ontario posed recently on his daily current events show, is it an issue with journalists or with journalism?
CBS’ crusty veteran correspondent Morley Safer (pictured, and a Canadian by birth) dismissed blogging a few years ago, raising his nose at the thought of untrained journalists venturing into the territory previously owned by those with the necessary credentials. What Safer missed in his condescending put-down was that bloggers, like reporters, journalists and columnists, have acquired life experiences, whether from work, global travel or community service, not to mention acquired research, analytical and writing skills.
Who’s Safer kidding here? Only himself in a misguided attempt to massage his ego.
There’s an inherent arrogance possessed by conventional journalists and columnists that they own the writing-commentary space, that only they are qualified to comment on the wide spectrum of issues and topics that affect society, the economy and the environment.
Bloggers self-empower, typically with little or no financial remuneration. They share their knowledge, discoveries and experiences unreservedly with virtual communities.
Competition is one of the hallmarks of a healthy, democratic society. Citizens–people–must always be free to choose. Only the people know what they want and what is good for them. In the context of news and information, society is in the midst of a profound shakeup, and it’s scaring the crap out of mainstream media. Blogging and bloggers are but one piece of the emerging online media puzzle. They’re playing an important role in presenting alternate ideas and speaking truth to power.
It’s a crowded but exciting information space for all.
The world runs on individuals pursuing their self-interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a, from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.
– Milton Friedman
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