How new media is turning old media into state-run media

With all the fanfare for social media, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and the never-ending reports of the death of newspapers, TV, and radio, the story today in the Los Angeles Times that a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism has found that the most original news reporting still comes from the “old” media–newspapers, TV, and radio isn’t really shocking.

Here’s why. When blogging was in its infancy, bloggers would do exactly what I’m doing now. They would read a story in the newspaper, or see it on TV, or even here it on the morning news show on their local radio station, and then write an opinion about it on their blog.

Now, as blogs and other social media tools have grown over time, they have matured and are competing for the right to publish and promote original news. But the complete dominance of news market share by blogs and social media is still a long way off, if it ever comes. Until then, the more traditional media outlets should feel somewhat safe in knowing that if the majority of people want to know what is going on, they’ll turn to the newspaper, the TV, or the radio.

However, what is more troubling about the LA Times story is what you read after you get past the headline. At the end of the story is a quote from the study that says due to the shrinking newsrooms of the traditional media, they are republishing more news releases. Dig deeper and you’ll see that the study has found as a result, the government is initiating more and more of the news.

If a newspaper doesn’t have enough staff to create original news stories and instead republishes other people’s work, then they’re just publishing unexamined messaging. Primarily, the study found, that messaging is from the government. It’s almost like we’re living in a country with a state-run media. Almost.

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The road to you

It’s often said that the journey is more important than the destination. That is an interesting thought to ponder as a new year and a new decade dawns. There is a tendency to reflect on the places we’ve been, the things we’ve done, and the people we’ve come to know. As I sat with my wife and some of her high school friends recently, I couldn’t help but wonder how they came to travel down the path they were on.

In high school, we all had our best friends. Some of us still have those people in our lives and the relationship has grown over the years. For others, that is not the case. As often happens, people who were once close drift apart because of circumstance, situation, location, or any other variety of reasons. It happens. But what is interesting is to consider—upon meeting up with that person again years down the road—who this person is now, how s/he came to be this person, and is this person now compatible within the scope of your life as it is now?

That was what I was thinking as I sat there looking from my wife to the people sitting around the table. I had known some of them in high school, and throughout the years since then. They all had their stories to tell. Some were married. Some were divorced. Some worked almost nonstop. A couple had careers that seemed uncharacteristic.

However, they were all there for that brief moment, even as they continued to chart the next step in their journey through life. They stopped for a brief moment to reconnect and then they all went their separate ways into the brisk night.

As I think about the New Year and its potential, I think that more and more people will use social media tools to stay connected, although I’m not certain how “real” that connection will be. Although most of the people at the table were friends on Facebook, they were all on different paths, which after the meet up, would lead to many various and sundry encounters apart from any with the people at the table.

It is often said that the journey is more important than the destination. What has your journey helped you to discover about yourself and where you are headed?