The role of mass media is to communicate, and evidence of communication has been around since our ancient ancestors first painted the walls of Lascaux in France more than 17,000 years ago.
But modern media is evolving at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up. As early as 1993 the late author Michael Crichton bemoaned the fate of mass media as near extinction because he defined media as a medium for the communication of credible information. As he saw it, “the American media produce a product of very poor quality. . . . So people have begun to stop buying it.” By delivering entertainment or unreliable news, media was effectively euthanizing itself.
So where do we stand today? Certainly media is everywhere—on our phones, GPSs, even video games—and it’s becoming increasingly dynamic, but is the information it communicates any more accurate or compelling? Then again, how many of us are willing to settle for sloppy information?
I’m still fairly awkward about new media; I rarely make an appearance on my Facebook page, and I’d rather visit individual news sites to review headlines rather than set up an RSS feed. Fortunately, many professionals who are far savvier than I have stopped using RSS feeds, so perhaps it’s just a matter of waiting to find out which media tools have real staying power (I’m still hoping Twitter goes away, but at this point that’s probably wishful thinking).
Now that I’ve started my own blog I was rather dismayed to read in the Wall Street Journal that one leading blogger, Gawker Media founder Nick Denton, criticized the “rigidity” of the blog format. Another blogger, Ben Smith, said, “Writing a blog has become this very old-fashioned thing” and compared it with calligraphy.
Public relations leader Brian Solis warned, “If you’re not part of the conversation, then you’re leaving it to others to answer questions and provide information, whether it’s accurate or incorrect.” So I guess one of the keys to modern communications is to stay in the conversation. I need to work on that.