Controlling the Media
by Daniel H. Steinberg
The news we get is influenced by the people and organizations that bring it to us. One of the great things about blogs is that we can pick our news sources at a more granular level. When I configure NetNewsWire, I'm building my daily newspaper. These are the people who tell me about what's happening.
What if you could choose the people who covered the White House, Technology News, or your favorite Sports Team? I remember growing up on David Brinkley and Chet Huntly and the NBC teams covering political conventions, space shots, and everyday life. My grandparents depended on Cronkite and CBS. We couldn't pick and choose reporters on an individual basis so we had to settle on the network their assembled staff (Ellerby, Utrick,...) as a whole.
It's a little different now in these days of remote controls. We can flip back and forth to catch a story or reporter we're watching for on another network. When I was a kid, I was the family remote control (Daniel, flip over to channel 3). Fortunately, my parents were pretty locked in to one network. It was a big deal when they switched over to PBS and McNeil/Lehrer.
I don't watch much TV news. I just don't like it very much. Until recently I got all of my national news by listening each day to NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Now I subscribe to them on Audible and flip past stories I don't care about.
Blogging and news aggregators allow me to assemble my own daily newspaper with my favorite reporters and commentators. I have them divided up into categories that look much like the sections in a newspaper: World News, Technology, ... and I have a category called "The Guys" that would be on my own blogroll if I had one.
Let's organize our own convention coverage. The next conference I'm attending is JavaOne. Suppose you could assemble a team of bloggers to cover JavaOne. Who
would you choose?
Who would be on your JavaOne coverage dream team?
Robert Graves and Hunter S Thompson
Imagine what the authors of "I, Claudius" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" would write.
Robert Kaye was talking about various groups using Hydra to keep notes during presentations and BoF's. I think that such notes collected into a Wiki (and perhaps syndicated as RSS) would prove quite valuable for recording the spirit and content of a conference.
I'd do JavaONE, maybe even gonzo, but I'm not sure with all I've said about Sun in the past they'd even let me in the front door.
hand-picked media can be dangerous...
Although I used to think that the idea of hand-picking all of my news sources with a fine level of granularity was a fantastic idea, I have since realized that there is also a significant downside. I recently read Cass Sunstein's "Republic.com" which talks about the dangers of over-personalization for a deliberative democracy. One of the significant issues is that if one is only exposed to a single viewpoint (or small set of agreeing viewpoints), one's beliefs will get more and more extreme. They will not be tempered by the opposition. Also, while there is the opportunity for a great diversity of media, if we are not careful, we will be exposed to ever-thinner slices of the world of ideas, instead of more. The book is an interesting read - it isn't a doomsday prediction, so much as a thoughful reflection on what might we need to be doing to increase diversity of viewpoints, and foster deliberative democracy.