Citizen Publishers – why bloggers are the New Media

Life as we know it, is being blogged by more people every day. Try to grasp the fact that the small and large events of everyday life, the good, the bad, and the ugly are being captured and documented in permanent and searchable form by a rapidly growing horde of citizen publishers, who observe, record and publish them on their weblogs.

This is wreaking havoc on the comfortable monopoly once enjoyed by traditional journalists. The contrived and pompous sonorities of what we used to call Mainstream Media (MSM) once passed for news. Hell, it even passed for truth.

William Randolph Hearst and the rest of his ilk once controlled and managed what the American public knew about important issues. It took years before we learned that many of these journalists were rabidly anti-American and did everything in their power to support our nation’s enemies and subvert our way of life.

Today, the droning voices of prime time news anchors are being punctuated by a growing chorus of independent fact checkers who will not shut up and go away.  Poorly researched articles by The New York Times and Newsweek are refuted within hours by independent citizen publishers who publish their findings on the Internet for all to see.

The net result is that more and more knowledgeable people are immediately checking sensational news from the MSM against their favorite news blogs.  How long will it be until these people switch to weblog news entirely?

As POD casting grows in popularity and sophistication, audio programming from alternative news sources may become the de facto news distribution system of the future.

What about the potential for biased reporting? We have already seen what the MSM is capable of. How will pajama-clad citizen publishers be any better?

There is an old saying that goes: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. When a small group controls the communication lines of any organization or a nation, it is an irresistible temptation to alter the news to reflect badly on enemies and favorably on friends.

The failure is not only in the human condition. It is in restricting the power for use by a privileged few.

When anyone can publish their thoughts, their findings, their research for all to see, it becomes more difficult for the Big Lie to be maintained.

In the past, when media channels were able to manage the news, entire nations could be goaded into brutal and inhuman extinction of minorities or individuals, unchecked by any attempt at rational discourse. Dissenting viewpoints had no public channel to urge compassion or consideration of alternate courses of action.

Today, the sheer volume of independent and unabashedly partisan reports by ordinary citizens is beginning to drown out any effort by a privileged few to manage the news.

Efforts to deify a pacifist’s unfortunate death under a bulldozer are quickly contrasted by photos of this "pacifist" showing people the proper way to burn an American flag for maximum political damage to the United States.

Inconsistencies between the President’s public statements and the actions of members of the Administration are quickly pointed out and exposed for all to see.

On the other hand, bloggers quickly exposed MSM efforts to falsely portray the actions of renegade soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq as a common practice in the Armed Services and fully supported by direct orders from the Administration.

The MSM correspondent activities in Iraq became the subject of repeated exposes by bloggers. Once it became evident that these MSM correspondents were filing alarming reports about conditions in Iraq without ever leaving the safety of their well-protected hotels, their credibility vanished. Well-placed insurgents had been feeding these correspondents whatever information would create the most devastating effects on American citizens.

The number of new bloggers grows constantly. Are these citizen publishers all going to comment on important events? Not by a long shot! But there are more people of the caliber of Bill Whittle, Jeff Jarvis, and the Powerline team joining the ranks every day. As they find their footing in this brave new world of citizen publishing, they will begin to exert influence and develop followers who turn to them for advice and guidance.

In the field of business, there is a rapidly growing number of experts who share intellectual property and engage others in discourse that is changing the way marketing, public relations and sales will be done in the future.

As long as they provide information that is of value to their readers, they will continue to enjoy readership. As the number of citizen publishers grows, there will be a growing number of niches developed which will have more influence than those in the top twenty percent. The 80/20 law is being repealed. This is the Long Tail phenomenon and I will endeavor to touch on how this might affect citizen publishing in a future post.

Meanwhile, keep blogging. You citizen publishers have a responsibility to future generations to record history as it happens. You have a chance to affect what our world might become. It could be a better world if we work it right.

This entry was posted in News blogging, Self-Publishing, Weblog as Power Tool. Bookmark the permalink.

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