Old Media Feeling Threatened
By Elisha Dorfsmith
In recent weeks there has been an interesting trend across the country as newspaper editors and journalists go out of their way to try to justify their own existence. The fact that they feel the need to address the topic in the first place is very telling and shows just how afraid the mainstream media is of becoming obsolete and irrelevant.
I first noticed this topic being addressed locally when Don Rowley, publisher of the Arizona Daily Sun, wrote an editorial titled Most Still Ringing The Bells For Community Newspapers. In that piece he asks his readers to think about what life would be like if the Daily Sun and other community papers didn’t exist.
Who would let the public know about fraud and dirty politics and shine the light on corrupt elected officials? Who would expose the kind of fraud that the City of Bell in California has had in the past? (At this point he unnecessarily goes out of his way to interject his opinion that Flagstaff City Manager Kevin Burke’s $170,000 a year contract is a “pauper’s” salary).
His conclusion: the end of community newspapers would have a “potentially disastrous outcome.” In other words, without the Daily Sun, Flagstaff residents would be completely in the dark when it comes to what our elected officials are doing.
Interestingly, some of the biggest stories of fraud, corruption and conflict of interest that the independent media in Flagstaff has focused on have been completely ignored by our community paper that pretends to work so hard to get the truth to the people.
Case in point, the Arizona Daily Sun recently admitted that they were aware of a very clear conflict of interest at City Hall and were following it closely but an article never materialized. Last Tuesday, Councilmember Celia Barotz hinted that she was ready to address the issue head on. At some point the Daily Sun will be forced to cover it but please remember where you heard about it first: from the independent media in Flagstaff.
Democracy Will Die
Leonard Pitts is the most recent journalist to try to justify his job and his newest article attacking independent media was picked up by large and small newspapers across the country. The Tennessean published his article with an extremely alarmist headline:
“What’s at risk if newspapers die? Just democracy“
It’s not often that I champion something Sarah Palin says but Pitts focuses his article on a statement Palin made that actually had me enthusiastically cheering when I read it. Palin said:
“Every citizen can be a reporter, can take on the powers that be.”
Yes, yes and more yes! This is something that I have been saying for years on my blog and it is something that every American should think about. Don’t complain that the truth is not getting published. Instead, become the media and publish the truth.
Pitts goes on to mock the very idea that the average person is capable of writing anything intelligent or of importance. In his elitist opinion:
“Palin’s sin — and she is hardly alone in this — is to consider professional reporters easily replaceable by so-called citizen journalists like Drudge. Granted, bloggers occasionally — and only occasionally — originate news.”
The tone Pitts portrays throughout the article, much like Don Rowley’s editorial, seems to have an undercurrent of desperation. The old media is becoming antiquated and is starting to crumble before their eyes. The days of being able to frame the discussion and manipulate public opinion are about over. The new media has become competitive enough to show the dinosaurs that they are on the road to extinction.
The Battle Ahead
It is no surprise that lawmakers around the world have increasingly been calling for a crackdown on bloggers and new media sources. Supposedly free countries like Spain are now asking search engines not to show results for blogs that talk about politicians or criticize the status quo.
Even in the United States with our First Amendment guaranteeing free speech, we are under attack. Google alone received 187 requests from the United States government to remove perfectly legal content last year. Much of this content was from bloggers and new media sources.
I expect the attacks to get much worse in the future as media elites and status quo politicians unite in their attempts to silence the voices of the people. Those in power are fighting to maintain their control and they are getting desperate.
This is why it is critical that we expose and fight every attempt to silence us! They’ll use every trick in the book to say that we must be silenced for security reasons or to protect the children or to keep people’s feelings from getting hurt (cyber bullying). The laws are showing up everywhere and they will be showing up more and more often!
We Need More Writers
All it takes is one good blogger at each School Board, City Council, County Board Of Supervisors etc. meeting to completely take the power away from the community propaganda papers and get the truth out. When was the last time the Arizona Daily Sun consistently covered Coconino County meetings? The County has been getting a free ride, passing whatever the board wants while the Daily Sun turns a blind eye or defends their wasteful spending and tax increases. A good blogger could put a stop to it and good bloggers have been putting a stop to corruption in towns and cities across the country simply by reporting what goes on at public meetings.
Even elected officials are embracing the new media and bypassing the community newspaper spin.
Newly elected Flagstaff Councilmember Jeff Oravits has started a new blog to keep Flagstaff updated on important issues.
Michigan Congressman Justin Amash has made it a big priority to write about every piece of legislation and explain every vote he makes in Congress to his followers on Facebook and Twitter.
This kind of communication and transparency throws another monkey wrench in the mainstream media’s attempts to control the dialogue and tell you what and how to think. It’s a lot harder for the media to defend Constitution trampling laws like the NDAA when a Congressman is pointing out exactly why it tramples the constitution and exactly how it could affect the average American if the government suddenly decided to use it to silence criticizing voices.