What a war also brings
The ongoing armed conflict in the Gulf area brings with it some interesting things that concern the internet. In particular, there are two interesting things.
One is how people use the internet to seek alternative means to get the information about the news that they want. This is something that experts and internet proponent have been talking about for years, that "The internet changes everything" and that every person is now his own editor, etc. So far, not much has happened to the typical news stream. This is obviously also due to the fact that the existing media have understood to use the internet as a channel to broadcast their news.
Work on revising how many radio and tv stations one network or corporation can control is ongoing, and strong protests have been raised against allowing even more stations to be controlled by a single company, because this would result in less diverse media. The proponenets of this liberalisation of the media area quote - apart from economic reasons - that the internet is a way for people to get diverse news coverage. So far, this argument has not had a lot to it, since people preferred the well-known media - even online.
Enter the Iraq conflict. Perhaps more precise the changes in especially American media after the terrorist strikes in Washington and NYC in fall 2001. People start to want a more diverse news coverage and start going to overseas media for their news coverage, because they feel that the American media don't draw the full picture.
Likewise, the use of blogs or even moblogs and videomoblogs for a more precise and diverse coverage is rapidly gaining ground. The first big blog event was Drudge's Report's report about Clinton and Lewinsky. That was more or less a lucky shot, and it has taken a while before this kind of news coverage has become big. It is however now rapidly spreading out, especially because of the linking between different people's blogs. Both of these tendencies point to the same: people use the internet to bypass ordinary news outlets if they feel something is not being told.
The other interesting thing happening is how IT can help ordinary people to organize protests and demonstrations against war. With the help of listservs, websites, blogs (there they were again!) and sms messages, huge amount of people can be alerted and drafted in a small amount of time. If you doubt my words, google for "protest against war" or similar phrases. See also this article for a round up of different anti-war organisations. As the article says, think of how organized the protesters are now at the beginning of the war compared to how long it took with the Vietnam War before opposition could be heard beyond a selected few.
This all boils down to new ways for people to do things by means of the internet. Whether this will continue when things get more normal or it is something accomodated by the current news coverage, remains to be seen. It is however too early for any proponents of liberalisation of the news media to use the internet as an argument for their agenda.
by Author - Thursday May 1, 2003 @ 02:41 PM
Radio people object to liberalisation: http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,58671,00.html?tw=wn_ascii