I Don’t Read The Newspaper
There I’ve said it! I am officially a heretic. I teach journalism, but I don’t read a newspaper.
And I doubt that most people reading this blog or others do either. — Blog post from @Teach_J
The 1920s saw an amazing change. The automobile was overtaking the horse, the telephone was becoming an appliance for more than the rich and early adopters, and the radio was replacing word of mouth and the evening newspaper as the method the public first learned of a new important event. Instantaneous communication changed everything, and the radio has lived on its laurels ever since.
That is, until the Internet crept in on little cat feet and slowly inserted itself first as an alternative for text communication, growing to a distribution medium so robust that it is easier to distribute high definition images–even moving ones–on the net than through adapted legacy media.
That has brought us to a crisis. We will, over the next few years, see the total decimation of the very technology that changed us in the first place. The change is going to appear far swifter than it really is, because its been going on for a long time, and instead of legacy media using its power to move forward, its used that power to be recalcitrant and reactionary. The best example is the RIAA, which was successful for many years in keeping the status quo through lawsuits and threats of suits, and through rent seeking–ie gaming the system instead of adapting to it.
The NAB has tried the same thing, and for years has been successful because no congresscritter wants to go against their local TV or radio station. But the Internet is a game changer, not only because YouTube can bring you a Macaca Moment, it lets you walk around those local gatekeepers and speak directly to your constituents: even about how your local broadcaster is gaming the system to make you think you’re being served by media that is really self-serving.
Take the Local Radio Freedom Act, which was named by the NAB to try and disguise what it really is: congressional affirmation that radio and television stations don’t have to pay performers when they play their songs. There’s always been an inequity in broadcasting. It had to pay the rights holders for the words and music, but not the performer who actually performed it in recorded form. When paying the talent was at issue for net-only radio stations and audio sources, the NAB was not interested in standing up against performance “fees and taxes.” Thousands, probably tens of thousands, of internet radio stations shut down.
But paying performers is a whole different animal when its legacy media. Its a tax. A bailout, screams the NAB, and they’re blaming the RIAA for it. In fact the only “freedom” in the local radio freedom act is to reaffirm in law the freedom of broadcasters to rip off musicians and artists, which they’ve been doing for years.
While these scorpions challenge each other in the bottle that is a shrinking space occupied by legacy media, we will see more and more of those of us who think about and write about a business we grew up in, no longer be consumers of it, because the new alternatives are just too enticing especially to those of us who follow them closely.
And I’m guilty just like the journalism teacher who eschews the pulpy rag. When I was writing about Randi Rhodes the other day, at a time her show was on, I wanted to make sure she wasn’t on the air but not on the net. I had to go out to my car to do it. I don’t have a radio in the house hooked up to receive an over the air signal.