Is social media the ultimate tool that gives voice to the masses? At what point does professional journalism become a wall that prevents all but a few voices to be broadcast to the citizens of the world?
A recent yard sale purchase – ahem, Transformers and Fisher Price Little People – had me thinking about the duality of modern journalism. See the photo to the right. You can read the photo a few ways:
- The large menacing Transformer represents ignorance and disinformation. The masses are made up of journalists, experts, and informed citizens who must ensure that the truth be discovered and communicated to the world.
- The large menacing Transformer represents established media channels, whose voices loom large over the masses. While some of these Transformers are good (Autobots!) there are many who don’t uphold the same standard, and will disseminate information that favors their own personal viewpoints (Decepticons.) The masses can choose between the two, but have no way to have their own voices heard.
- Dan has way too much time on his hands, and needs to stop playing with vintage toys.
I keep seeing this debate ebb and flow, and of course, both sides are right, and both sides are wrong. As with many things, those who have power tend to feel that they are the little people upholding standards to protect the masses. Today, established media has considerable power, as do a new breed of social media users.
And neither side will win.
Why? Because they are each simply two sides of the same coin. When the goal is truly to inform, to express, and to grow – both sides have the same goals. As each adjusts to understand where media is headed, how journalism will grow, and how each will be funded, I hope that we find more in common, than we find to divide us.
Next week: What Strawberry Shortcake can teach us about leveraging online video for fun and profit.