The traditional role of the news media, to collect facts and broadcast them as quickly and accurately as possible, is dead. It is old news (though they haven't done a good job reporting it, except for some brave souls); a majority of the people working in the news industry are facing the possibility of becoming either worthless or jobless or both. Who is killing them?
Everybody. Even themselves.
Why? Because as readers, all we need is the one news source—the best—and it is already on the web. When I want news I have HuffingtonPost. When I want anti-news I have The Onion. That's it for me, my news needs are met. Perhaps for you that “one course” is Financial Times, or The Sun, or both, but that's the only one news outlet you really need.
It's not just news. For every topic I am interested in, there is a giant resource on the web that shows me everything, usually for free.
- Conspiracies World affairs: The Economist
- Blogging tips: Problogger
- Technology trends: TechCrunch
- Box office: Box Office Guru
- Cool stuff: Wired
- Oddities: BoingBoing
I know there are other resources. But I don’t care, because the ones I chose satisfy all my needs and more. The hundreds of second-tiers, the almost-as-gooders, don't exist for me.
It is like getting married. We might spend a ridiculous amount of time picking our best possible mate, but after that, as long as the relationship provides net positive results, we don’t consider other temptations.
Sure, websites are not humans. The virtual world has a big difference from the real one: everybody can own—not share—the same best mate. You can have either, or even both of, Brangelina in your hands. And they stay young, without (or with) the thirty kids coming ahead. Do you still need more?
So. If a media outlet (or a website, or a blogger) cannot be "The Best"—which is too far to go for 99.9999 percent of us—what should we do? Here is where the second option, “The Only,” comes in. Continued to the next entry…
Mar 20: P.S. Had a great comment from Tariq West on the "becoming worthless or jobless or both" part in the first paragraph.
"Worthless or jobless or both" is perhaps not a great phrasing in the sense that bloggers and other new-media outlets very much depend on the work of traditional journalists – they may be jobless, but the more they disappear I think the more we'll realize how much they're worth.
He is right, that wasn't an appropriate phrase. I was having the situation of journalism in my home country, Japan, when I wrote this entry and realized what is happening there just doesn't apply to journalism in English-speaking world.
Decades of language barriers have created a haven for the Japanese news industry, which unfortunately has invited a serious deterioration in the quality of the news. Maybe I should write a separate entry.