John Leo

     In the mockumentary, the new electronic media basically blow away the old media by paying attention to what people want, most of which would be called soft news or non-news today. In 2006 Google combines its services?including Gmail, Blogger and GoogleNews?into the Google Grid, which provides limitless storage space and bandwidth for storing and sharing media.  Google defeats Microsoft  in the news wars of 2010 (no actual news organizations are involved in the conflict).

    In March of 2014 Googlezon produces EPIC, the Evolving Personalized Information Construct. ?Everyone contrtibutes now?from blog entries to phone-cam images, to video reports, to full investigations,? the video says. Everyone is a news producer as well as a news consumer. Computers strip and splice items, adjusting for each user?s needs and preferences.
News is prioritized by the number of users who read each item. There are no gatekeepers who decide what we should see and which items are more important than others.

      The video appears to be an unusually dry satire, but taken at face value, most of it is plausible and scary. Without gatekeepers, no one stands ready to verify reports as accurate so there is no difference between real news and agreed-upon gossip or low-level fluff. Issues debated today?are bloggers real journalists?, for instance, or is there a clear line between news and entertainment??would be irrelevant. Everyone would be a journalist. Everything people want to see or read would be journalism. And though some contributors would be paid, it isn?t clear that the flow of money would be enough to fund complicated reports and investigations. Reporters would be paid in accordance with how popular their stories are. Lots of luck if your job is to cover Rwanda or global warming.

      In pointedly ponderous tones, the mockumentary breaks into one of those on-the-one-hand, on-the-other hand analyses that we all love to hate. At best, we are told, EPIC is deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything seen before. On the other hand a lot of EPIC is shallow, trivial and untrue. ?But EPIC is what we wanted., it is what we chose, and it?s commercial success preempted any discussions of media and democracy  for journalistic ethics.? ?EPIC 2014? is a very sharp bit of media analysis.

Check it out at www.robinsloan.com/epic/.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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