Here’s the lead of my latest Media Guardian column about bloggers and media and the French riots.
It’s anarchy. The long-oppressed masses are rioting. The old roles are confused, the old rules erased. Am I talking about the French riots or the internet? Both, of course. It is just my cheap, rhetorical trick to tie the two together. But the arrest last week of at least three young bloggers for allegedly using their sites to incite violence precisely highlights the confusion this new medium brings. So does a controversial government official’s use of internet search advertising to push his inflammatory agenda. And so does old French media’s fear that covering this explosive story would only favour the politicians they do not favour.
Taken together, this illustrates how media used to be all about control – with journalists and governments managing the messages – but now are all about the loss of control. The audience took over the internet and blurred all the old lines: where is that line now between witnessing and reporting, between communications and conspiracy, between inciting violence and expressing rage, between speech and crime?
: Another path to it here.
Here’s my latest Guardian column. This week, it’s a rewrite of my review of Good Night, and Good Luck, the movie about Edward R Murrow: in the Guardian; on Buzzmachine.
Here’s my latest Media Guardian column inspired by Ms. Miller about the web and the changing nature of secrets: At Media Guardian or here.
In my latest Guardian column, I argue that the big, old networks won’t die but they won’t grow and in business, isn’t that as good as dying? Here it is on The Guardian (and here it is on Buzzmachine). I go over some of the same turf longtime readers/sufferers will find familiar: How the netework that no one owns, the internet, is more powerful than the network the big guys own. And then I compare the businesses of CNN and every media commentator’s new-age darling, Rocketboom. I point out all the things Rocketboom doesn’t have: expensive studios, equipment, staffs, lawyers, deals, marketing budgets.
But they do have audience. Rocketboom serves at least 60,000 downloads a day. Compare that with Crossfire’s audience on CNN: 150,000. So Rocketboom has more than a third of the big network show’s audience at a fraction of the cost. And, by the way, CNN’s audience is near retirement age while Rocketboom’s fans (excluding me) are young enough to be CNN viewers’ grandchildren.
Rocketboom itself won’t kill CNN. But a thousand Rocketbooms will explode television.
Last week, Paul Farhi at The Washington Post explored the same thicket and came out with different burrs. He still believes that the networks have “some unrivaled competitive advantage.” And that’s true, if being big is the goal, if blockbusters remain the basis of your economics. But in this new small-is-the-new-big you no longer have to be No. 1 (or 2 or 3) to survive. You can be No. 3000 or 30,000 and be big enough to succeed. And so the networks will find themselves with 30,000 or 30 million new competitors nipping at them.