Tuesday, December 1, 2009

From ‘Collateral Gore’ to Bliss on the Cloud?

Once again, New York Times writer David Carr puts the current maelstrom of the news media in meaningful context with the flare of a jedi wordsmith. While I agree with the shards of optimism Carr plucks out of the sky in the last few graphs of his commentary, it seems a bit abrupt after he has spent 1,000 words or so detailing the carnage-strewn landscape of the industry. And while the boundary-busting exuberance and creativity of technologically empowered youth might merit eager anticipation, it is not likely to prove the savior of the substantive media that we’ve been seeing steadily falling by the wayside over the past couple of decades.

I am not a defender of the old order – with its pervasive flawed business models and the celebrity-like living of the Manhattan media elite (a very small portion of the industry, let me assure you!) – but neither am I smitten with visions of a technology-centric means of qualification when it comes to the media I consume.

Call me elitist, but everyman, citizen journalism (whether tweeted, blogged or You Tubed) is not an adequate replacement for dedicated, adequately funded, professional journalists – a welcome and needed complement, yes, but not a substitute. Yet, the print media’s current tactic of cranking out articles with a self-declared value of $20 a piece (as detailed by Carr), is hardly going to yield high-quality content that will attract and engage readers. Maybe it is time to just throw in the towel and bring on the You Tube News Report and Roland Headley’s Tweets from the Trenches. Who needs thoughtful journalism when we have algorithms to wield?

Ahh, but all is not lost, at least not for all of us. The information-haves – those, in the near future, willing and able to pay the steep prices destined to be attached to content that surpasses the Entertainment Weekly standards employed by the rest of the media industry – will still be able to get their fix.

We’re entering and age, it seems, in which we’ll see, to quote Carr, “a new scarcity of quality content for niche audiences that demand more than generic information.” The day is coming when those who want substantive, accurate, reasonably-unbiased news – and are able to pay a premium for it – will be the niche rather than the mass. What that means for the state of our nation, well ... that’s another matter entirely.

Welcome to the niche, my friends.

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