Nothing new in new media

by Jun 13, 2011 No Comments

Nothing new in new mediaI AM disturbed. Readers: “Yes, we’d noticed.” I am disturbed, in particular, by the internet. Readers: “Oh.”

Some of you nowadays have computers and will be familiar with yonder internet. But I wonder if it’s all that great. Look at some so-called “news” sites. Not updated for days. Some aspire to compete with the “mainstream” press, but you look in the morning and find they haven’t one new story since the previous day.

Not that all mainstream paper sites are great. You find controversial comment with no name on it. Picture captions are often ungrammatical or absurd, indicating that they’ve been written by IT people rather than journalists. There’s often no context to a story, as offered by the pagination and presentation of print. And you sometimes get only a small selection, so you must buy the print edition for the full picture.
Of course, as a professional journalist, still scratching a living in an apparently dying medium, I believe in buying papers. Get doon the shops and hand over your dosh, citizens. Please. Pretty please. Oh, please, please help us. Sorry, succumbed to panic there.

The newspapers’ cunning plan of charging for their product with one hand and giving it away free with the other has caused the biggest self-inflicted financial disaster in industrial history.  As a producer, I believe journalism should be paid for. As a consumer, I don’t. The compromise is to charge many people small amounts of money rather than a few people large amounts.

In all this, the BBC is at an advantage, being free at its endpoint thanks to its compulsory payments system through the licence. The Beeb showcases the superiority of socialism over the market, with its tax-based system producing self-evidently superior results to those of the capitalist channels, with their irritating adverts and inane populism.

In Scotland, the Beeb has become controversial, as it’s the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation, and detractors say it brings unionist assumptions to its coverage. There’s some merit in this observation, but not much. Compared to most of the mainstream press, more effort is made at not being bizarrely biased, and the Beeb’s taxpayer-funded websites are a fount of information.

The papers themselves are only biased because they’re frightened. They’re trying to act “responsible”. This makes them inherently conservative and cautious, because that’s safer than supporting big change. They never, ever support big change. Thus independence – they’re too scared to support it. It’s too big.

Illogically, the onus of proof is always placed on those seeking change. How can you prove something that doesn’t yet exist? The status quo, meanwhile, doesn’t have to prove it would work. It already exists and, even if it works badly, it’s the devil the media know.

Meanwhile, so we’re told (and the figures seem to bear this out), young citizens are unwilling to get to know the old devil that is the inky press itself. Fair enough, I suppose. Ever onwards and upwards. But the internut will really have to up its game and stop feeling so smart about itself.

It may not have much time for ink, but did you know that it’s largely dependent on coal? It’s true.  According to a report in the Montreal Gazette, which of course I read online, if the internet were a country, it would be “the planet’s fifth-biggest consumer of power ahead of Indian and Germany”. Put that in your pipe and smoke it outside.

The internet is powered by massive server-farms, which gobble up huge amounts of coal-fired electricity. Every Google search you make is killing the planet. I exaggerate, of course, but only massively.

Personally, I don’t much care about the future of the planet. Sick to death of the damned place. But while it’s still spinning in its irritatingly predictable manner, we might as well try to make our bit of it habitable. In the Scotosphere, intellectual discussion is massively dominated by supporters of independence, with Unionists generally confined to leaving bile-filled, negative comments on newspaper websites.

A couple of new Labour websites have sprung up, though, and there’s a chance that these may foment original thought. But, if you’ve a breath about your person, I wouldn’t bother holding it. Already, they’ve decked themselves out in tartan and even occasionally deploy Scotch words in an attempt to be “nationalistic” (groan). It’s a start, I suppose, but it all has the feel of a ploy or tactic, rather than genuine feeling for their country, which they’re determined to stop running its own affairs.

Talk about a noble cause. It must surely be dispiriting to wake up every morning with that as your agenda. “To-do list: milk; tatties; cat food; phone garage; stop country running its own affairs.”

However, talk is good and, if nothing else, the internut certainly foments that. No more relying on just a newspaper’s letters page to see what the insane are thinking. In a sense, the internet is all talk. Indeed, it’s all a parliament: parley-ment, d’you see, from the French “to witter on”.

I didn’t get where I am today by wittering on. Hang on, I’ll just read that back. Sorry, I did get where I am today by wittering on. Now, with the coal-fired internet, a billion voices are wittering too. Marvellous.

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