Let me be the first in the new year to declare that the mainstream media are dead.
Now, can we please move on?
Henceforth, my spam filter will bounce any e-mail that includes reference to the dying or dead mainstream media, or MSM, as the gleeful undertakers prefer.
It's over. Done. The old media are no more. We are all new media now. All journalists, we are also the news. We are essentially a nation of news-mongering newsies making news as we do the news. At some point, the news will simply consume the news consumer-slash-provider in a big bangish event that will go unreported.
In the meantime, could we give it a rest?
The mainstream media aren't really dead, of course. The industry has merely transmogrified, splintered into a billion little reflections of its former self. One-fifth of the world's nearly 7 billion people are now Web-capable -- all reporting, opining, interacting, twittering, digging and blogging.
Bloggers, bless their hearts, are becoming the new-old curmudgeons, thinking hard before writing, still insisting on complete sentences with more than 140 characters, clinging to their gerunds, participles and semicolons. Many are camouflaged renegades from (or appendages to) newspapers, not so much new breeds as Darwinian adapters to a new environment.
Watching newspapers tumble the past few years, and especially toward the end of last, when even the once-great Tribune Co. declared bankruptcy, has been painful to watch and more painful to experience. No city editor or beat reporter ever fantasized about the day he would surrender his press pass to write releases for the local hospital.
What fresh hell, indeed.
But most painful -- perhaps odd is a better word -- has been the celebration in some quarters.
Yes, we know: Journalists are held in low esteem, below lawyers and politicians. Some deserve it; most do not. In other oddities, we seem to reserve special hatred for the best papers -- the ones that do the expensive, labor-intensive reporting that keeps government in check and exposes corruption, sometimes even among their own kind.
Are papers sometimes wrong? Do some reporters embarrass the rest? Is bias a problem? Yes, yes and yes, of course. Journalists are not saints, but they do perform a valuable service for which the rewards are few. If you want friends or money, my first editor told me, get another line of work.
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