Clay Shirky with a well thought out and pretty thorough essay. He covers the FCC ruling and the various ways of approaching the issue as well as presenting a comparison to the freest media so far; weblogs. Everything he says makes a lot of sense in terms of regulation and business benefits but in the end the only thing I really care about is independence of content, the problem I have with big media outfits owning a lot of properties isn’t the lack of diversity directly, we’ll still have a bunch of channels, it’s the way they cross breed and try to attain synergy.
I’m not afraid of a huge conglomerate owning too many stations, I just dont want to see all the back scratching between all their units. Network A shows a Mother co.’s subsidiaries’s movie right before the sequel comes out in theaters. A news show then does a puff piece on it and a month later it’s another piece on some new ride in the mother companie’s amusement park. Or some scandal is glossed over when it relates to a sister company. Own as many as you like, just keep them separate when it comes to editorial content.
I think that’s what we still have and should keep in weblogs. Sure, the A-list blogs have huge traffic but the small guys are still independent, who cares if one blog is much bigger than others? When you want a blog on pretty much any subject after a bit of Googling you can find one. As long as he doesn’t answer to an A-lister (or anyone else for that matter) for his editorial choices, we’re ok.
Ahh, but how do you judge independence in this case? Independence from a monetary context yes, but I think independence from a social context is questionable. People like being famous, being known, and being associated with people are well-known (assuming because it boosts their own profile). Thus, you have the scenario where for every A-list blog, there is a certain number of “groupie” blogs.
Whilst independent bloggers have a right to say what they want, there probably exist also blogs “bought out” by certain companies. How do you differentiate one from the other?
In any case, I’m not sure if it’s true independence if people are driven towards popularity gained by tagging onto someone else’s coat-tails.
I agree, and almost included that aspect in my post but I think “groupies” (blogarazzie? ;) are easy to identify and if you dont like their sucking up you just move on to another blog. That choice isnt always so easy with traditionnal media, there isnt necessarily a second choice available.
Plus, the groupie would then link often to the a-list blog so you would have easy access to the original content and realize the copying or pandering. Easier than with big media.
As to blogs having been bought out, I hope we dont have that yet but we do have company guys blogging, probably (almost certainly) with a company bias and they dont always include a disclaimer to that effect. There isnt a way to seperate them but if “exposed” it is, again, easy to find another source.