Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Times, They Are A'Changin

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" It was nice having a guest blogger yesterday. And now I have an offer for you. If you leave a comment, I will put your name in a drawing for my reviewer's copy of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. You'll just have to give me some way in which to contact you -- your own blog or an email so I can get your snail mail address.

On Monday, I celebrated 26 years of marriage. Please don't ask me where those years went, or how my little babies have become young women. I think we dream of Heaven as an eternity because our lives rush by so fast.

But today's sermon is about the changing face of news-gathering and democracy in 21st century America.

My husband will go in to work this afternoon at the newspaper where he has worked since 1987. He will have to vote on a negotiated contract that contains a 6 percent wage cut, some of it through unpaid "furlough" weeks. Everyone is heaving a sigh of relief that there will be no layoffs (at this time) of a workforce that has shrunk by about 75 percent since Mr. J arrived here.

This is your diminished daily newspaper. And trust me, readers, your politicians local and national, your corporate CEOs, your sneaky lobbyists, they are loving it. No more pesky investigative reporters watching them! Add to this with a groundswell of resentment against government regulations, and you've got a world run by the wealthy few with nary a roadblock in their way!

If you couple the diminution of daily print journalism with the Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to spend all the money they want on political campaigns, you get a serious challenge for the rank-and-file citizenry. Who is going to run this country?

We are. You and me. Let's get busy.

It has already begun. Think back to the recent presidential campaign. What do you remember -- the slick commercials, or that couple in their living room singing about Sarah Palin hanging around with Godzilla? One YouTube gone viral!

If corporations can spend what they want on elections, We the People can post YouTubes, spend nothing, and perhaps deliver a vote.

Net Neutrality on the line? We'll figure out how to bypass it. Many, many fine minds will be on the task in the days and weeks to come, and they will share their discoveries ... for free.

I used to get so upset about WalMart. Giant corporation, mistreating its employees, foisting shoddy goods made by underpaid workers on the lower echelons of our social structure. Guess what, WalMart? We the People are pushing back! Sites like this, "People of WalMart," slap you with a negative image through satire that even Keith Olbermann would be too polite to try.

My daughter The Heir was telling me last night that someone went into the produce aisle at a WalMart, whipped out a little techie device, and took a film of how filthy the shelves and floors looked. Loaded it onto YouTube. "The Aisles of WalMart." More bad press than the store would get on the front page of the New York Times.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your investigative reporter of the 21st century. It's you, with your phone and your links. Help us, ObiWan IPad, you're the only hope we've got!

Needless to say, my husband and I were talking about the future of print journalism in this century, particularly as it will impact the decade to come. We concluded that newspapers will not disappear entirely, because print journalists, with their reputations, will still be allowed to have interviews with people of interest. If I, as the author of this fine news-gathering site, "The Gods Are Bored," called the Philadelphia Eagles and asked to interview their new quarterback, I'd get hooted off the phone. But my husband, who is a sportswriter for the daily -- that's an entirely different story. He gets the slot.

I am worried about corrupt politicians getting away with murder (anyone who reads Carl Hiaasen becomes particularly paranoid). Well, that's where we all have to step in. A man named Michael Carnock is trying to boondoggle his way into the construction of a huge housing development on the edge of a wildlife refuge in Western Maryland. Google his name, and up come my rants against him and his project. Go to my site and find a link that says "Save a Little Stream." I'm determined that Michael Carnock will never break ground on his development, and so are just a few more people. We're watching him and reporting on his every move -- through a chat group and a web site, and places like this blog.

Pick your battle, reporter. It's time to go to work. Don't feel guilty that you're putting print reporters out of a job. That ship hasn't sailed yet (*knocks vigorously on wood*). But there are fewer print reporters and many more ordinary people with cell phones. Look out for your interests, and act accordingly.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

And don't forget Wikileaks!

Cheiron said...

At times I worry that the news industry will end up becoming online magazines, sites like Huffington Post, and narrow-focused blogs. But then I figure that newspapers were always incredibly biased. So why not just embrase the change to a more open news field? It's like wikipedia, its now more accurate than 'professionally' developed encyclopedias.

Mother's Moon's Message said...

Am I dating myself when I say.. right on sister... but you could not be more right. It really is up to the people to do something if they want to see anything happen especially if it is contrary to what is currently happening. I enjoyed your post tremendously... keep them coming.

Pom said...

I thought I was already doing that all over Facebook...


happy happy anniversary...your a credit to married people.ha
I like it when you google anything about West, Texas and my blogs come up..

Intense Guy said...

YDG = Texas


Just think, with all the cellphone cameras and point and shoots and video cams out there - its probably impossible to do something stupid and not have someone have the video of it.

Of course that means our government will continue to stamp "Top Secret" and "Classified" on things mostly to cover their own asses - and very little will be because of any merited (and vague) security reasons. I'm waiting for the day they "take over" Youtube.

Alex Pendragon said...

Thing is, "the news" is a commodoty; it has value in that it protects freedom and democracy from those who want to own the truth and bend it to their purposes. People paid for that commodity, they paid that quarter for that paper or had a subscription. And a newspaper dared not sully it's reputation for unbiased truth if it wanted to retain that valued customer, the everyman. But then came the web, and suddenly, people could get all kinds of truth absolutely free (except for the cost of the connection), which made it unnecessary to pay that .75 for a paper. News gathering organizations cut their own throats by putting their stories online. Now, we will accept what is fed us by whoever because we are getting it for free (you REALLY think any of us pay the slightest attention to those stupid ads?) and free beats the hard-earned truth anyday, at least in America, the home of the lazy entitled armchair cowboy.

Rick Loftus, M.D. said...

Right on, Anne. As my twin always says, in a democracy the voters get the government they deserve. The web in some ways has democratized information streams; we can harness that power for good works.

Spare said...

This is me ah-trolling you for not writing about me in the past week. *troll troll troll troll troll* my ego, it hurts.

The Wizardess said...

Oshe, Anne! And I want your review copy. :)

The Kitchen Witch said...

Yea I have to agree with you, if we want things to change we have to get off our lazy butts and do some real work!

kimc said...

I am very upset about the Supreme Court decision that lets big, conscience-less corporations able to buy our elections. If corporations are people, they are legally insane people: they don't know the difference between right and wrong.
What's that book about?

kimc said...

oops. reading backwards, I just came across the explantion of the book.