A prevalent and dangerous assumption

Reed Johnson had a nice piece in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times that I just got around to reading this morning. It’s a nice overview of what’s taking place in the media world today, and I recommend reading it. Here’s a snippet:

Still, while network CEOs and newspaper publishers wring their hands and mutter darkly about the “balkanization” of civic consciousness, the electorate is finding new ways to stay informed. “If you type ‘Sam Alito’ into [blog search engine] Technorati, you get thousands of results,” says Pang (Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, research director of the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley think tank). “There clearly are a lot of people across the political spectrum who are blogging about this person and whether he should be on the Supreme Court…The collective mind of the blogosphere turns out to be a reasonably good news editor.”
This article does a good job of presenting the lengths to which people are going in the creation of their own media and in the deconstruction of the mainstream.

These kinds of articles are especially important for mainstreamers, because a lot of people simply don’t believe the facts. In comments to a post on Lost Remote yesterday, one writer said:

I just don’t think most people want to do all the work required to find out about stories that matter to them. That is why they turn on the news… cause they trust them to do it and do it well.
This is a prevalent and dangerous assumption, because once people discover the fascinating world of unbundled media — and how easy it is to automatically bring what interests them to their own desktop — they realize that it’s no work at all. Moreover, it is the pig of young people that’s just entering the python that don’t find any of this “hard,” and with this involvement in their own media choices comes a sense of participation in the process that’s hard to measure right now.

Trust the media? Gallup’s research shows that trust in the press is at an all-time low.

Like all top-down media, we mistakenly think that people are lazy (and stupid) and need us to do all their work for them. Articles like the one above show that’s an illusion — and one we would do well to remove from our consciousness.


  1. Terry- While the LATimes article seems a touch deterministic, you hit it on the head with your response to the ‘lazy’ and ‘stupid’ masses comment. There are two important things to note: (1) Once a non-geek discovers how easy it is to operate an RSS feed reader, they never surf the same way again, and (2) editors in traditional media need to re-evaluate what it means to be a journalist and their opinions of their viewers/readers. Rupert Murdoch cut to the quick on April 14 — “…reporters and editors think their readers are stupid. In any business, such an attitude toward one’s customers would not be healthy. But in the newspaper business, where we rely on people to come back to us each day, it will be disastrous if not addressed,” said Murdoch.

    Full Speech: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/04/14/1113251729950.html?oneclick=true

  2. Thanks, Ian. I’ve actually been searching for that quote. You rock!

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