Ed Driscoll

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: Reed

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: Reed Johnson of the L.A. Times writes:

Sometime in the future, the media may look back on 2003 as the year when a number of warning bells were sounded. But as an industry it seems we’re still trying to agree on how to locate the fires, let alone how to put them out.

Reading his article, you get the feeling that Johnson obviously knows there’s a problem, and I commend him for pointing it out. But he’s only partially right: the warning bells began to go off a long time before 2003. The public, en masse, only began to hear them last year.

I don’t know if the media as a whole can hear them–or if they can, are aware of how loudly they’re ringing. And if they can, do much about them. Johnson’s industry is too set on auto-pilot, and too paralyzed by political correctness to radically change their direction.

Further into his article (it goes without saying: RTWT) while Johnson properly rebukes Christiane Amanpour for saying that the press was muzzled, he never explains why CNN was really muzzled: they were in hock to Saddam Hussein.

And check out this quote, that goes uncommented on by Johnson:

“You have to consider real news that serves the democracy kind of like a public utility,” [Kristina Borjesson, a former reporter-producer for CBS] says. “And you would not want the bottom line to get in the way of your receiving electricity or clean water. Well, in a sense, real information on what the arena of power is doing either nationally or internationally, on behalf of all of us, on behalf of the people, that’s almost like a utility.”

But utilities are increasingly no longer monopolies.

I have options when it comes to most of them: if my water is cloudy, I can buy bottled water or a filter. If my phone rates go up too high, I can change carriers–or consider using more online chat or Internet telephony. Satellite TV has more channels and better picture quality than cable, so I switched. If my electricity is funky, I can add surge protectors, or depending upon how upset I am, install my own back-up generator.

And after 9/11, when my news sources seemed like they were stuck in Hue City covering the Tet Offensive of 1968, I changed ’em. And you know what? If you’re reading this, you did too.

I started my own blog, because I wanted to express opinions on material I normally don’t write about during my day gigs. There’s no reason why you can’t either. As Matt Drudge once said, “Roger Ailes told me early on, you don’t need a license to report. You need a license to do hair.”

Utilities are not monopolies–and while the media’s monopoly on news gathering will remain for the forseeable future, they no longer have a monopoly on opinion.

And it scares them.