Are friends and family “the press?”

One of the cornerstones of the postmodern culture is that trust in institutions is replaced by trust in one’s tribe, that circle of family and friends determined by the individual to be his or her influence group. As I’ve written in the past, this group doesn’t work together as groups of the past; in many cases, it doesn’t function as a group at all, except in the mind of the individual.

Many of the people in my various tribes, for example, have no idea of their position. The web, with its associated links, makes this possible. In a similar manner, I suspect I am a part of many tribes.

The point of this is to offer a little evidence of postmodernism in action via a World Association of Newspapers (WAN) report on how young people use media. Most, the study say, use traditional sources.

At the same time, however, “many participants in this phase listed ’discussion with friends’ as a top source for news and information, sometimes ranking higher than TV or newspapers. In particular, social networks appear to be key in spreading entertainment news for most young people.”

“Although information gathered from family and friends may not be accurate, young people appear to trust family and friends much more than media sources,” said Mr Barnard, who added that the reasons for this phenomenon will be the subject of the next phase of research.

The big reason they’ll find is that “media sources” have spent the last several decades pushing themselves away from the people they’re supposed to serve. It’s called greed, and the web cuts right through it by enabling informed people to share with each other. Trust is a personal decision, and people are voting with their eyeballs. This is exactly why Media 2.0 is the growth engine for all media downstream.

From a postmodern perspective, institutions have failed, unless you’re a member of the ruling élite. Institutions begin as mechanisms to serve the public, but every one eventually drifts to self-preservation. No where is this more evident than in the media, but mark my words, the energy behind this phenomenon — as the study calls it — won’t be satisfied until every institution bows its knee to the citizenry that gives it its power in the first place.

A big reason for this is the ability of the public to ask why, get answers and share those answers. Links take the knees out from under the artificial power of protected knowledge, and this is changing the nature of authority in our culture.

Another thing Mr Barnard ought to examine is the sheer arrogance of the line “although the information…may not be accurate.” Why do we find this in any mainstream attempt to “understand” the disruption?


  1. I absolutely trust friends and family (same thing, for most of us) more than the “press.” For a little while, I worked for the local police department and had first-hand knowledge of a lot of news. The disparity between what really happened and what got reported was usually great and sometimes jaw-dropping. The “press” either gets it wrong or treats the audience like we’re idiots so often. Hell, my downstairs neighbor’s bad hip usually provides a more accurate weather forecast than the local TV weathergeeks.….….

  2. NEWSFLASH: World Association of Newspapers discovers 60-year-old theory of “two-step communication,” put out by mass communications heavyweights like Katz and Lazarsfeld way back in the day. The hypodermic media-to-brain model was dead-on-arrival. We listen to the influential humans in our peer group, not to the man on the radio. The trick for media, as always, is in figuring out who does the influencing, and influence them.

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