Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is this the Arab Spring for Media?

Thanks, then, bye... etc (image via Flickr 'world economic forum'
Are we witnessing an Arab Spring for media? Murdoch pulling out of the BSkyB deal isn't the end of this story - not by a long way.

I believe (as previously posted) it's a key moment in the shift in power relations - the end of the power of the media to tell us what to think.

There are similarities with the Church's loss of power. That came with the arrival of the mass produced book - a technology delivered by the printing press. It shifted the way information was both generated and distributed.
Now the media faces a similar loss of power - with the arrival of self-organised systems of publication and distribution - the social media.

It has allowed the edge - the all of us - to lead the way in showing the politicians the media no longer holds sway. Now they've been shown how weak the old media is, the politicians are windmilling in. And I don't think they are going to let up (and likely nor are we) until new rules of ownership are imposed. They will restrict the amount of the media anyone can own.

Which is kind of bolting the stable door after Dobbin has disappeared over the horizon - because who would want a vast chunk of something that delivers dwindling revenues and even faster dwindling power. I doubt Murdoch will have to be told.

The press has always been known as the fourth estate (at least in the UK). The other three are the Legislature (The politicians and their machinery), The Judiciary (the Judges and theirs) and The Church.
The Church's power (and along with it, wealth) disappeared with the arrival of the printing press. The Fourth Estate's is rapidly going the same way - driven by the self-organisinig edge-enabling impact arrival of the internet.

A vacuum will emerge - with all of us now charged to fill it. And that won't be easy. We have to work out collective ways of keeping the legislature in check and the judiciary under review. But we've got the tools, we've clearly got the ability - now we have to find the regular, committed inclination to fill the boots of the salaried investigations of the best of the Fourth Estate.

We'll crack it. And if we do it in a way that successfully contains checks and balances on ourselves and our influence, we may find this particular Arab Spring does away with one or two other estates along the way.
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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?