Business As Usual For Big Media

At a citizen journalism conference organized by The Media Center, Big Media institutions are quickly coming to the realization that they are no longer in control. Some are taking it better than others.

Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC World Service and Global News Division, told a conference the broadcaster's prominent use of video and other material contributed by ordinary citizens signaled that the BBC was evolving from being a broadcaster to a facilitator of news. "We don't own the news any more," Sambrook said. "This is a fundamental realignment of the relationship between large media companies and the public."

The good news for the BBC is that they won't have to produce all their own America-hating material, they'll be able to draw from the content of private America-hating contributors.

Another member of the opening panel, Farai Chideya, a correspondent for National Public Radio Inc. in Los Angeles expressed concern that many big stories may be affecting people who don't have broadband access to the Internet, resulting in a risk that they could be excluded from citizen-generated news. The big question, she said, was how to get people "in the caboose of the digital train" involved.

Well, I wouldn't worry too much about it. NPR has had no problem getting people in the caboose in the past.

Larry Kramer, the head of digital operations at Viacom Inc.'s CBS unit, said CBS was eager for more feedback from listeners via its newly expanded online presence, but he said the company would keep a "filter" on such contributions rather than allow open posting by users.

Wow. CBS "filtering the news" to paint the picture the way they want it painted. Who would have guessed?

In a keynote speech, former presidential candidate Al Gore, who now runs a cable TV channel that uses user-generated material, railed against the state of television, saying that the growing entertainment focus of newscasts was undermining the country's political dialogue. "The subjugation of news by entertainment seriously harms our democracy," Gore said. "I'm trying to work in the medium of television to have a multiway conversation."

Really? Because I thought Al Gore said Current TV wasn't a politcal machine, that it wouldn't be used to deliver a political dialogue. Maybe he was too busy sipping a lemonade when he said that and just doesn't recollect the statement. Are you starting to see a pattern here? When the media get together to shape overall policy, who runs the message? The New York Times, NPR, CBS, BBC, and Al Gore. No, there's no bias to be had here. It's all a big myth.