Alan Crosbie recently spoke at the “Media Diversity: Why does it matter?” conference, which took place in the Radisson Blu, Golden Lane, Dublin 8 on the 6th of Feb 2012.
This article by Hugh Linehan points out some of the major themes of the weekend.
The recurring theme for both Minister Rabbitte and Mr Crosbie related to the problems associated with Old and New Media in Ireland, where New Media is for all intents and purposes causing the loss in revenue to Old Media, most notably Print Media. This is hardly a shock announcement and something that most Newspapers themselves have been trying to come to terms with both here and abroad, to differing success.
The focus of Mr. Crosbie’s comments however were of the dangers and the pitfalls of how we now receive our information. In the past we have always had the reliable Newspapers to give us our information and make sure that it was checked and fact cleared and thoroughly researched before being sent out as News. The prevalence of modern technology and the availability of the internet has resulted in a situation arriving where literally anyone can upload the news, live, from the scene and with photos, provided they have a phone.
This revolution in technology has resulted in what Mr. Crosbie sees as a very worrying situation for society as these people are not experts, do not have researchers and do not know as much about the media as those who have been working in it for as long as he and his family have.
There is a large part of this argument that I agree with, most notably the idea that we are being given factual accounts of things in the form of the print media and if we begin to rely on the bias reporting of anyone with a camera phone we will not be getting as much insight into the story.
There is also a lot wrong with these statements in my opinion. Mr. Crosbie is sure to point out in his speech that he wants to distance himself from The News Of The World and I can well understand why. I am not suggesting that he is in any way associated with them either and I am sure that the majority of the free press found these actions deplorable. There was a reason that they happened however and this was the print media’s attempt to keep up with 24 hour News Channels, somewhere this idea of the average person having their say began.
This aspect of televisual news media has been something that has been building for quite a while. How exactly does one fill 24 hours with news? Especially considering that bad news is the type of news that keeps people engaged. In America where this first happened, they have lengthy police chases such as the OJ Simpson case that kept people enthralled for hours. More recently they have been able to run long scenes such as Mr Brooker points out in the above snippet from his show surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, or the Casey Anthony trial in America.
I would not like to suggest that all media coverage is bad, but there is a case for this argument in modern society. Where “celebrity” results in a witch hunt by the media and paparazzi, only disillusionment can follow for those people who would still take the time to find out a fair and balanced opinion on what is happening in the world around us. Too many tabloids have taken over and started to impact how all media is run. In a contemporary world that deals in soundbites and news on the go, the representation of celebrity as a reason to defame and situations arising where a reality tv star’s death takes precedence over real life atrocities, then there is something troubling going on.
This also follows hard on the fact that news travels regardless of who controls the content thanks to the digital age we live in. The Occupy Wall Street movement was being streamed live around the world while the local tv and print media ignored the thousands of protesters down town being pepper sprayed by law enforcement units.
So how do we tackle the rise of urban reporting? Is this a problem for society or just media outlets. Should the internet be constructed on the initial goals upon which it was set up, then all information would be readily available for those who want it. The continuance of this ideal would lead to the utopian state where everyone is learned and no one would think to lie. If ever one hears the expression “but I saw it on the internet”, one knows that this is said with an amount of tongue in cheek.
I am glad that the Government and the Media seem to at least be addressing the problem, but I do not see the end in sight, nor do I have any answers to propose. It is important I feel to watch what is happening and make sure that we are progressing further.