February 10th, 2007
A backlash against “new media” ideology and disingenuousness seems to be simmering at this year’s We Media conference. From Mark Glaser at MediasShift:
My personal definition of â€œwe mediaâ€ is the movement toward an empowered audience, who can customize their media experience and create their own media, leaving behind the old model of the mainstream media control. In that case, a â€œwe mediaâ€ conference would be about those average folks who are innovating in citizen journalism and breaking the mold.
But this conference uses the â€œwe mediaâ€ moniker loosely, making the gathering a hotbed of broadcasters, newspaper folk, venture capitalists, and advocacy groups who all want to understand how they can dance the â€œwe mediaâ€ dance.
A lot of the comments from the room revolved around people mentioning their own citizen media efforts and initiatives. Someone from Gannett mentioned Gannettâ€™s mobile journalists. Someone from Topix.net talked about the forums at Topix.net. Someone at BlogHer talked about the female blogger network at BlogHer. These were all great examples of whatâ€™s happening in citizen media, but there was a self-congratulatory and self-promotional tone that didnâ€™t feel very â€œwe media.â€
But it did fit in well with the conferenceâ€™s tagline: â€œBehold the power of us.â€
Then there’s this scathing comment from Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News:
Enough of conferences going over the same ground, enough of bloggers (several of whom make their living from consulting with big organisations) saying big media doesn’t “get it” and only they have insight, enough of big media publicly agonising over how to respond to the huge disruption the internet has brought. Enough of the fallacy of thinking there is some kind of power struggle going on. It’s about integration, not subsititution…
Ah, but remember, the “power struggle” goes hand in hand with the ideology. How can the proletariat rise up if the bourgeoisie isn’t keeping them down? If we could just embrace the ideological agenda and the need that media companies have to keep making money, maybe then we could all just get along.
There’s a political correctness to many discussions of “new media” that just makes me want to holler. Seems I’m not alone.