The dire circumstances predicted by Paul Starr in his piece in The New Republic regarding the decline of newspapers seems to be somewhat valid while also rather sensationalized. I think the fact that newspapers have been a dominant medium through which events, culture, and beliefs have been disseminated for over a century plays an integral role in causing alarm and discomfort to people as the shift to new media becomes more palpable. Starr acknowledges this, but also states that this shift away from the newspaper is the beginning of the decline of democracy and an informed society, a point that I believe is sensationalism in an effort to attract attention to the dwindling newspaper industry. In fact, I believe that new media is allowing for a greater variety of information to flow to the public in ways that are more flexible and less traditional; yet, while less “traditional,” like Starr states himself, the paradigm of news and media flow is itself changing. Search engines like Google allow the aggregation of multiple news sources through one medium. Twitter, likewise, allows the streamlining of news sources and journalists into a tidy feed. Starr’s point that the loss of newspapers leads to the loss of local and smaller news organizations, thus less democracy and points of view, is certainly an area of concern. It raises the question of quality and reliability of the news, which is something to worry about, but not something to think of as the imminent decline of democracy. I think that there will have to be a new breed of journalism that grounds itself in the quality reporting to accessible sources, such as Google news and Twitter. In terms of profit and business, it must look toward the creative investment in applications, products, and services that could enhance the news digestion process. While this is certainly an uphill battle for news organizations rooted in print sources, I believe that democracy and quality news reportingcan be preserved and perpetuated. We all just need to be willing to make that change.
John Durham Peters discusses how “modern media forms” (referring to the television and newspaper) do not permit the flow of conversation and discussion with the media and an audience. However, this points to the creation of new media, namely the Internet, which converges forms such as television and newspapers with the connectivity and convenience of a computer, laptop, tablet, or phone, addressing Peters’ criticism of media’s lack of conversational opportunities. The Internet has transformed once “one-way communication” media forms into a more democratic, interactive form, creating a multitude of new opportunities for the audience, who can now react and respond to the media’s content. TV shows can be found in sites like Hulu, on which people can share clips and comment on videos and episodes, while the majority of newspapers have online counterparts where readers can make comments and start discussion boards, hence interacting and conversing with the media like Durham suggests. Something I began thinking about that makes the conversation between media and audiences in this modern form more interesting is examining the power of anonymity in these conversations. The inhibitions of an individual sitting at home in his or her pajamas on a living room sofa are much lower than those of someone having a face-to-face interaction. People use usernames that may reflect interests or beliefs but, nonetheless, generally mask their identity, providing a confidence to make remarks that can be more brazen and forceful than those that he or she may have made without the cyber barrier. I wonder what the power of anonymity and the Internet hold for the future of society and the debate of how this cyber confidence may help or harm media’s cause. Just something to ponder!