The Parliament of Clocks can’t keep time

A piece of by Edward B. Driscoll Jr. about how bloggers expanded the news agenda is getting a good bit of attention in, well, naturally, the blogosphere.

He traces the rise corporate of mass media, pointing to the 1970s as the zenith for the Mass Media Age, a time when the three networks and a handful of newspapers controlled the national news agenda. Driscoll said that monolith first cracked during the Reagan presidency with the repeal of radio’s Fairness Doctrine and the rise of AM talk radio. It accelerated as bloggers came on the scene and had their defining moment as news sources in 9/11.

Ironically, perhaps, there were more owners of U.S. daily newspapers and radio stations in the media monolithic ’70s than today. Even as media has become more fragmented, ownership of traditional media has become more concentrated.

Basked in the sepia tone of liberal media vs. right-wing, individualistic bloggers, Driscoll succinctly de-constructs the disruption of the media industry today where:

Because Internet bandwidth is so cheap when compared with the enormous capital investments required to own a newspaper or television station, it’s possible for a blogger to experiment radically with new technologies as they come along, including burgeoning multimedia formats. It’s the advantage that the flea has over the elephant: Though the elephant may be mighty, he’s awfully slow. As Alvin Toffler once told me, “The flea is fast. The flea is fleet. . .that’s the paradox: The more power you have, the less free you are to exercise it.”

And in Swamp Fox fashion, Driscoll says bloggers are experimenting and employing more technologies more adeptly than the finest marching media machines.

Now that newspapers have noticed blogging as, ah, well, a real trend (or threat) and have adopted the format, Driscoll says they do it oh so dully.” The publishers of most newspaper blogs have confused form with content,” he says.

A prediction from Knoxville’s Glenn Reynolds:

“As I keep saying over and over again, the ‘killer app’ for Big Media is hard news, accurately reported. That seems like something that they resist. It’s almost like their position is that they didn’t go into the news business to report facts accurately,” he chuckles; “that’s boring!

Driscoll, correctly I think, sees the further development of blogs as larger media entities, either as powerful “A list” bloggers or magazine-like sites of groups of bloggers that become more rather than less like traditional media. Isn’t that the pattern in any emergent industry, the best separate from the pack?  And that happens against a backdrop of mushrooming growth in the number of people doing blogs or writing similar to blogs on social media sites.   

Give it a read, Cornwallis.