The new media

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Fancy cutting down all those beautiful trees to make pulp for those bloody newspapers … and calling it civilization.” –Winston S. Churchill

Unless you live under a rock (and there are very few such dwellers in the world of trucking) you know the newspaper business – and, by extension, the profession of journalism – is undergoing some seriously painful change right now.

Stalwart icons such as the Seattle Post Intelligencer are no longer printed – living in a much reduced state online – while the Chicago Tribune languishes in bankruptcy (and may yet expire there) due to heavy loads of debt. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for thinking these are but several of the death rattles emanating from the traditional news-gathering business. Some think the very foundations of democracy are being threatened by this collapse of traditional media titans.

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That’s the furthest thing from the truth, though – for in my humble opinion, what’s going on is an at times searing evolution of journalism and the information gathering and dispersing process it manages. No longer are there such sharply defined lines between “print” and “television” journalism, or even between print and photo journalists – we’re doing it all nowadays, from writing the stories, to taking the photographs plus shooting and editing video as well.

That even applies to the audio world, too, where satellite radio and Internet podcasts – such as the new Trucking Business Insights program my fellow editor Tim Brady is putting together – are changing the pathways through which trucking companies large and small, as well as drivers and owner-operators, get the information they need to be a success in this tough industry.

[Veteran newsman Evan Lockridge, host of “The Lockridge Report” on Sirius XM channel 147, talks about how these new mediums are creating closer connections between trucking journalists and the market we cover.]

Is any of this a “bad” thing when it comes to providing you, the digester of trucking news? I surely don’t think so. I think it actually opens up more opportunities for us, as trucking reporters, to bring you more useful information while helping us formerly ink-stained wretches craft better stories across many more mediums than before.

Indeed, while YouTube and the Internet can often times disseminate more than their fair share of rumors and outright inaccurate garbage, they are also demolishing barriers to news – providing channels outside the control of heretofore omnipotent news barons and government censors, giving everyone a chance to hear more sides of stories than before.

Take Daniel Hannan, for instance – a member of the European Union's Parliament that’s been taking copious notes on how “blogging” is changing the face of political discourse

“The internet has changed politics - changed it utterly and forever,” he noted in a recent post on his own blog. “I made a three-minute speech in the European Parliament, aimed at Gordon Brown [Prime Minister of Great Britain]. I tipped off the BBC [British Broadcasting Company] and some of the newspaper correspondents but, unsurprisingly, they ignored me: I am, after all, simply a backbench MEP.”

He did, however, disseminate his comments to the public via YouTube – and that changed everything. The next day, he found his phone clogged with texts, his email inbox stuffed with messages, with the YouTube clip of his remarks had attracted over 36,000 hits.

“How did it happen, in the absence of any media coverage? The answer is that political reporters no longer get to decide what's news,” Hannan said. “The days when a minister gave briefings to a dozen lobby correspondents, and thereby dictated the next day's headlines, are over. Now, a thousand bloggers decide for themselves what is interesting. If enough of them are tickled then, bingo, you're news. And jumbo thanks to all the American bloggers: you chaps are way ahead of us in this regard.”

Hannan’s own example below of how a short video speech can lay out a new line of political debate – in this case, how the European Union’s financial arm is spraying money everywhere – illustrates the power the new media channels have today.

“Breaking the press monopoly is one thing. But the internet has also broken the political monopoly,” Hannan said. “Ten or even five years ago, when the Minister for Widgets put out a press release, the mere fact of his position guaranteed a measure of coverage. Nowadays, a politician must compel attention by virtue of what he is saying, not his position. It's all a bit unsettling for professional journalists and politicians. But it's good news for libertarians of every stripe.”

And good news for truckers, too, as hopefully this will provide wider access to more useful information in real-time than ever before.

What's Trucks at Work?

Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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