The Changing Media Landscape – Is There a Solution?

The FCC's "Future of Media" report revives controversy around media

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New media has completely transformed the way consumers gather news and information. While it has created many new opportunities, it has also brought about numerous challenges to traditional media and even contributed to, what some consider, dying business models.

Some traditional media enterprises have embraced new media with great success. Others, however, have not had the same experience. One of the biggest blows, if you will, to traditional media has been that consumers have become reporters themselves. We have seen how powerful these reports have been in events involving the Middle East, the death Osama bin Laden, and more.

Today, consumers no longer have to wait until designated times to get their news and information. Not only that, they don’t even have to visit specific news sites to find out what’s going on. News today is easily accessible wherever consumers are.

How do you consume news? Do you utilize traditional media forms, or do you rely on new media outlets? Let us know.

The big question in all this is, how will media continue to evolve? This is exactly what the FCC and the FTC sought out to do some 2 years ago. When the effort began, it seemed to lean heavily in the direction of saving journalism, namely, struggling media enterprises. In 2010, the FTC released its “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism,” which was received with much criticism.

Since then, the FTC has not been involved with the effort. The FCC, however, recently released its own “Future of Media” report called “The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age.” This report was met with both criticism and praise. Most of the criticism came from the left, and the praise came from right wing groups that want to preserve the First Amendment.

Speaking about the report, Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, told us the report was a “welcome relief.” He said, “It shied away from the more extreme types of proposals that we had heard some academics put out there in the past.”

The report focuses on the abundance of media and how consumers can access this wealth of information with as little as a click of a mouse, but it didn’t actually call for any drastic recommendations. It did note that traditional media institutes are struggling and that high-quality journalism was hard to find, even in this age of abundance. However, consumers now have choice, which was something that was strictly limited before.

The FCC admits that getting both really high-quality journalism and giving consumers options is a difficult challenge. Although the commission did not provide a solution to this dilemma, it did advise the media to continue experimenting with processes and systems.

Media reform group Free Press strongly opposed the report and called it a “major disappointment.” In a press release, President and CEO Craig Aaron said, “The report discusses many important ideas, but where the FCC actually has the power to help local communities, the agency abdicates its responsibility in the areas.”

Free Press, along with many other media reform organizations, hoped that the report would call for more aggressive policy proposals to ensure quality news and information for local communities.

“If the FCC decides to relax, waive, or ignore its own rules that prevent the formation of local media monopolies, it may temporarily help pad the profits of the large conglomerates, but it will not cure what ails journalism or the media industry,” said Aaron. “The only way to ensure vibrant, quality journalism-and a healthy democracy-is to engage the public so starved for meaningful local news and information today. We hope that this report can still serve as a catalyst for better public policy to address the serious problems the document identifies.”

On the other side of controversy, Thierer said, “There’s an important wall in America, a wall between, if you will, press and state… that wall is rarely breached, and it should not be breached so easily just because there’s a time when the media is struggling in this country, as they are today.”

“This debate has a level of elitism at the margins at times where some people say, ‘You need to eat your greens and find the good journalism,'” he said. “Living in an age of abundance in the Internet and digital world… we can spend a lot of time online – probably messing around, watching and listening to all sorts of stuff, including a lot of nonsense – and not always consuming that which others think is best for us. But the question is, how do you force them to do that?”

He also asks the question, “Do you want a massive bailout of failing journalistic enterprises?”

From a practical standpoint, Thierer believes that if the government begins to impose policy on the media, it will only lead to more policies. While the government could bring some improvements to the media sector, he doesn’t think that it should be able to force what it thinks users should consume.

“Information technology is moving way too fast for our federal regulators to keep up with it,” he said. “We live in gut-wrenching, interesting, disruptive times… some of this experimentation and evolution is just going to have to play itself out… there isn’t any easy answer.”

Do you think the government needs to step in to help improve the media sector?

The Changing Media Landscape – Is There a Solution?
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  • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

    Government stepping in to a for profit sector rarely gives taxpayers good value for money.

    • http://www.informationpublishingportal.com Alan

      You mean — like the GREAT treatment we all receive from the increasingly de-regulated financial institutions and insurance companies the past decade? Get real! Stop thinking “black and white.” DEregulation does not mean remove ALL oversight and regulation and when you do, there will be criminals running rampant at the expense of the consumer. Freedom does not include and should not include the freedom to rob and steal and use one another. This is usually what is actually meant by the “de-regulate business” right — and it appears you’re buying it.

      • Banatu

        Wrong. Deregulation does not mean anarchy. It means removing ridiculous rules and regulations that prevent the average Joe from being able to compete or even try to.

        It means you can start a taxi company with your time and your car, without needing $600,000 to pay the state for a license. Or that you can sell your baked goods at the farmer’s market without spending years getting approval and complying with regulations.

        And it means you have the freedom to choose to use or consume these services if you wish. Or not if you don’t.

        It doesn’t mean you can run people over or put arsnic in your cupcakes (but fluoride, corn syrup, and aspartame are perfectly OK).

        • http://new2worldofwarcraft.com Ph1l

          More simplistic “government regulation is evil nonsense” and as usual dressed up as freedom for the masses, when we are usually talking about the interests of the already well represented corporate sector.

          Sure regulation can be bureaucratic (show me any large organisation, private or public and I’ll show you bureaucracy!) and can hinder people but surely some government regulation does protect the interests of the majority?!

          As for regulating the news people can get from various internet sources I would have thought it was an almost impossible task. I’ve been more bothered by the power the likes of Murdoch wield and the mainstream management of the “news” from which the majority receive their daily brainwashing! It does have an enormous influence on society despite the arguments that most people are cynical about the “news”.

          So if the internet means we have people being able to attack the mainstream then that’s fine by me.

  • http://www.informationpublishingportal.com Alan

    I’m concerned when I read a report claiming the right is opposed to something the left praised because of freedom of the press issues. It doesn’t matter what it is — you just nailed THIS report a right-leaning because I’ve not yet seen a “right-wing” agenda for freedom of the press…unless you mean the freedom to buy it all up and then make sure nothing is ever seen or heard but your right-wing viewpoint.

    That one line made the rest of this story total rubbish.

    • Doug

      I spent nearly 30 years in the newspaper business. What we see happening now is democracy at its best. The public is not as dumb as some media would believe. The fact newspapers are going out of business is they have stopped serving their communities and instead feel an “obligation” to advocate from a position because they think they are smarter and need to direct the public’s thinking. Rubish. Report both sides without a hint of politics and the public will make their own decision. THAT is true freedom of the press, being responsible to the public they claim to serve.

  • http://www.wewanttotakeamericaback.com David Lloyd

    The problem is not that we have a “public so starved for meaningful local news and information today…” News abounds. The problem is that there are those who want to tell us what we can and can not consume. It’s an old, old line. There are always those who want to limit news to that which is in line with their beliefs. They want to shut up anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

    The stifling of free speech has been going on for all of history. Our Founding Fathers knew this when they wrote the First Amendment to the Constitution.

    In the USA, the Supreme Court never ruled on the Free Speech Clause until the 20th century. In the early 1900’s some began to infiltrate our country thinking they know best what others should and should not think. And it’s still going on today. The problem we have today is that those who want to tell the rest of us what we can read, do and think are now the government!

    Much blood has been shed throughout history for the right to speak and think as one wishes. The answer is; leave it alone. The forms of media that can meet the needs of the people will survive, both print and virtual, without help from the government!

  • http://www.ameriwebs.com George Snell

    I guess I am naive, by believing the government should not interfere in the rights of citizens to publish, read and use their own common sense to discern the difference between valid input and trash.

    The purpose of the press and various news media is not to present flat, unineresting stories based on truth. It is to increase readership, thereby increasing advertising revenue, whether through a declining fiber-based media or speedier and less costly electronic media. They are perfectly free to slant, mislead and do whatever else they desire to increase readership. It is the individual’s responsibility to determine the worth of the offering, and make a somewhat semi-intelligent decision as to the truth of the material being presented.

    Papers in the US going back to pre-revolutionary times – when most had to be read in pubs because few people were literate, were typlically sponsored by political parties and activists to present their point of view. In spite of that, we managed to build a pretty good country. Why destroy it now with government intervention and over-regulation?

    I, for one, do not want the FCC or any other government-controlled entitiy telling me what I am allowed to read.

  • http://www.platinumlynx.net Chas

    If traditional newspapers meet their demise, that is the way the cookie crumbles, but, it is probably a myth, like the ‘paperless office’. As far as quality, you don’t have to go on-line to see poor journalism- there is just more volume there. We don’t need more Government intervention; if people would rather read about the latest Lohan escapade, than the latest uprising in Syria, so be it. It is about choices.

  • http://www.CaptainCyberzone.Com CaptainCyberzone

    The Government has no place in the media other than to truthfully report it’s doing’s to the media, when asked, so that a responsible media can then dissipate that ‘news’ to those that seek it. The media outlets, as such, are supposed to truthfully ‘report’ news and not ‘opinion-ate’ news without the declaration that that is what they’re doing.
    Government involvement leads to government control, case-in-point: Pravda, the official newspaper (1912–91) of the Soviet Communist Party and as such, the only newspaper of the Soviet Union. The readers didn’t get much ‘news’ rather they got ‘propaganda’. This can be experienced in the Main Stream Media (MSM) of the U.S. today. If one takes the time and scans the morning news releases on all the MSM one notices the same words, verbiage, quotes and terms being used by all (case-in-point: remember the term “gravitas”). Obviously the Administration in power faxes their allied MSM with the daily ‘talking points’ and that compliant ally puts out that propaganda as ‘news’.
    However the ‘news’ arrives to your cognizant being has no place being regulated by the government and nor should independent ‘news outlets’ be “saved” by the government (the people, all the people), the market will decide that.
    Government involvement and collusion would have us still getting our news from “the town crier”.

    Also, an informed, intelligent audience will decide which media outlets are ‘real news outlets’ and which are partisan ‘opinionated’ outlets.
    Case-in-point this article (with the ‘CAPS’ being my emphasis to make my point): Abby Johnson, “The Changing Media Landscape – Is There a Solution?”, WebProNews, writes:

    “Most of the criticism came from THE LEFT, and the praise came from RIGHT WING GROUPS that want to preserve the First Amendment.”
    This tells me that “WebProNews” is, more or less, a partisan leaning outlet that I’ll just scan in the future rather than wholly read.

    Freedom of the press and the market place without government interference!

  • http://www.goldcurrent.net Ryan

    People are tired of the government controlled, mainstream media and the growth of alternatives prove it.

  • Banatu

    Awesome replies here. And dead on correct.

    People are tired of the nonsensical, orwellian ‘mainstream’ media in any format. We are tired of being lied to and manipulated. We know war is not peace and that a ‘jobless recovery’ is an oxymoron.

    ‘Alternative’ media is already the new mainstream. It will never go away. Take away the internet, we will go to shortwave. Kill the radio, we will go to print. Kill the print, speakers will rise from the angry crowds.

    Truth is rising!

  • http://BoldGurus.com Internet Marketing Community

    The government needs to LET THEM FAIL and FALL; and stop using OUR tax money to pay THEIR salaries, when no one even uses them any more.

  • http://Stiggler.com Local Business Search

    If someone needs a bail out, then they obvious aren’t doing something right, or they aren’t needed by the people. There is no justification to save them in either case.

    Why don’t WE get bailouts? Oh, that’s right, because we’re just normal people, and we’re not rich. Stop the bailouts.

  • http://www.beachconnection.net oregon coast beach connection

    Don’t know if there is much the government can or should do. But there needs to be some sort of labeling system in online news that lets you know if a resource is a real media outlet or just some crackpot citizen journalism site…..perhaps a mandatory labeling system. Not unlike warning labels or movie ratings. Especially since google news and social media pass around anything and everything. Not everything is trustworthy on the net…..including google.

    • Lee Cole

      What’s a crackpot citizen journalism site? Are not “citizens” capable of being good journalists?

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    If people don’t want to consume good journalism you can’t make them and you can’t prop up dying media business models with public money. Most people wouldn’t know good journalism if it hit them in the face and could care less about it anyway. That’s why the quality of journalism will continue to deteriorate for the foreseeable future.

  • Dr. Richard Zeile

    I believe that good journalism is worthy of subsidy, but not particularly by government. The current situation reminds me of my family’s automotive needs: when the kids were young we had one big car that took everyone to the same place, but as the kids got their own licenses our family needed a diversity of cars, none as expensive or capacious as the the one we’d had a decade earlier, but able to take us to different places. There is occasional nostalgia for the big family car, but we really can’t turn back the clock. So there is occasional nostalgia for the days of big/quality media, but we really can’t turn back the clock.

  • Lee Cole

    I noticed no mention of the free market! Why not let news consumers figure out what’s best for them? This report, article, etc, seem to have as an underlying assumption that people are incapable of figuring out what types of reporting are in their best interest. The free market, if left alone, will sort out the good from the bad journalism. Only journalistic elites and policy manipulators would think otherwise.

  • http://robbwindow.blogspot.com Robert

    Thanks for the refresher three good things are highlighted here about the confusion correctly cited from media associations. Effects on education system and the understood knowledge of hiring and getting hired after graduation. Practising media and the old consumption of data debate is weighted since time began and as mentioned based on future predictions spearheaded by political channels on different levels of western society. Basically to cut a long and neccessary story short I am thinking experienced graduates of media and perhaps journalism need to gather somewhere and shape some new form of income, becuase the efforts and expressions both online and of are becoming a joke, the sharing and profiles are being .. ignored or disinformed where as the pool of media money is getting heavily invested wrongly as every other large companies do on what perks exist these days.

  • http://www.albuquerquewebmall.com Doug Layman

    Please tell me one time where the Government has “stepped in” and actually made something better?

    It is the nature of people, in general, to seek the truth. When you’re being told one thing and it contradicts your own experience (if you’ve had an experience outside of the educational system) then we’re obligated to search for the truth.

    “The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”
    Thomas Jefferson.

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