disintegration of traditional media

I’m reading a book, The Long Tail, which talks about the way in which the Internet has destroyed the traditional ‘hit making’ machine which revolves around feeding large number of consumers a relatively small number of products, fragmenting it into a huge number of niche markets.

Last night I saw the same topic being discussed on Sky news. They had a guest speaker who has written a book – I forget the title, something about everybody being an amateur – who said it was a bad thing, that anybody could create their own video, news column etc and that there was no quality control and that nothing could be trusted to be accurate.

When I worked for Bridge News one of my daily jobs was to read all the newspapers for that day and pick out three or four articles in a daily roundup. One thing that I noticed immediately was how the same story would invariably have different facts quoted in the different papers. i.e. if the story was about 3 men and a dog one paper might say it was four men and a dog another 3 men and 2 dogs.

The other thing that they discussed on the news was that the Internet was open to ‘gaming’ that corporations and other organisations would use it to their advantage, again making the content untrustworthy.

If you look at the UK newspaper market you have papers that are right wing, liberal, left wing etc, and they will all have completely different takes on the same news.

I do think that you need to be very careful and should not believe everything you read, whether it be on the Internet or in traditional media. I know that I make a conscious choice of the paper that I read (The Guardian), of those that I consider trustworthy and those that I have read enough times to know that I don’t need to read it any more (The Daily Mail). In this respect I don’t see a major difference between the traditional media and the Internet. The important thing is not to take anything at face value and to pick out those sources you consider trustworthy rather than believe anything and everything on the ‘net.

The other thing that I think comes out of this is that publishers on the ‘net should exercise great care in publishing accurate, well thought out copy. That’ll be me then…

— update —

I should mention some resources on the Internet that I consider trustworthy. I tend to cross reference most resources to get the bigger picture but one source I take at face value is the blog by Matt Cutts. He is of course a Google employee, something that needs to be taken into consideration.

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