Friday 13 August 2010

Is it still possible to own the News?

These days the media moves very quickly when it comes to reporting news, it would appear that well anything newsworthy (or not) such is our veracious appetite for information these days, occurs anywhere in the world, in only mere minutes the story in all its full glory is posted and disseminated on the internet for all to see. The reporting of the news however does not just begin and end with the big media these days.

The world definitely moved on with the invention of the printing press, it allowed for the beginning of the news bureau and the adaption of the newspaper; from there the distribution platforms expanded considerably with the invention of the photography, the moving picture, the telegraph, the telephone, radio and probably it’s most successful distribution platform ever television, well at least until the internet’s debut just over 20 years ago.

So with the exception of the internet, all of the most successful news aggregation and distribution models favoured big media. There were considerable barriers, being the high costs of entry, technological restraints as well as government regulation that conspired to keep news gathering and distribution in the hands on the minority. The news was owned by big media, they traded in this commodity, they controlled access and content, they were the licensed purveyors of news and if we wanted access we played by their rules.

However these days no sooner is something reported that it is tweeted, buzzed, posted in Facebook, emailed, linked to and added to countless other social media platforms. There are also blog’s, which serve as a valuable adjunct to mainstream media by allowing ordinary people to create and comment on the news and the issues affecting them. Some of this distribution of the news and opinion is happening without it being sourced from big media at all but independently created. However I would suggest that most definitely a larger percentage of all news and information that is being freely shared on the internet is being sourced from the traditional news organizations publications as they have moved online, in a bid to remain relevant to today’s consumers.

Of course it’s not always old media that is the first to report the news these days.  There are conflicts and disasters that occur in geographical locations that political unrest and censorship prevent the mainstream media access let alone the ability to report the news. This type of reporting used to be the preserve of the local media or dedicated foreign correspondents it was fraught with danger and getting the message out was only one of many dangers that faced the journalist. But interestingly these days the old-established media is using both its traditional news gathering techniques, but also borrowing from non traditional sources such as blogs and photo sharing sites.

So it used to be in our not too distant past that this dissemination of the news was the preserve of the big media/content barons and the news associations such as Associated Press, they spread the news to the masses but it's not theirs alone anymore.

OK you say, so people are breaking news on Twitter and other social media sites, that is no big deal! It’s definitely not news! And oh by the way nearly everybody is doing it! Is there a point to this or what? Well yes, there is a point and yes you would be right many people are posting and sharing breaking news on social media and yes I think that it is a good thing. The free expression of news and ideas can only be beneficial to a society, to a community, to mankind, we are all better off with free and unencumbered access to news and information. However, lately there has been a lot of talk about the online news by big media and how the bloggers of the world are just stealing their content and reposting it, sometimes as their own works.

Newspapers are going broke and it’s all our fault, why it’s our fault is a little unclear, but still apparently this will have to stop. There are outrageous claims that without the old-established mainstream media there would be no new news, and so the world’s established old media organizations are looking to build walled gardens around their News sites and we the reader if that’s what we want to remain, are going to have to pony up and pay and yes the News will once again be owned by big media.

But once they build their nice little pay sites, what stops those nasty little bloggers doing what they have always done, and just paying and stealing the content anyway. I don’t know but I suspect it might have some to do with enacting copyright.

Copyright has in the past as is now been used to protect the economic interests of the creator’s of semi intangible ideas and concepts allowing them to assert ownership over said concepts for a pre determined period of time, and thus allowing them to profit from their work and stimulate the further creation of ideas and works by others in providing an artificial mechanism of protection from theft.

This has of course not has not yet happened, I am of course hoping that it will not happen, but coincidently some news headlines lately have floated the idea of hot news an artificial barriers (limited copyright) to prevent others from posting this news for a predetermined period of time.

So to my point, if big media owns the news, will I be able to post of said news in my own words to this blog, or will I be barred for a pre determined amount of time from reporting because NEWSDOTCOM owns that story.

Could this one day become a common headline in blogs around the world?

Breaking News, due to Copyright restrictions we are unable to divulge or report on today’s news, please bookmark this site and return tomorrow when we will legally be able to report on today’s news in the mean time feel free to peruse the many fine article of old news we have available courtesy of NEWSDOTCOM.

But as a caveat for being able to bring you the hot news of today tomorrow may you may also have to credit  the source of the said news that you can’t yet report, and worse still will need to provide a URL link to the hot news story that you can neither report or discuss until their monopoly access to this piece of hot news expires. It sounds scary doesn't it ?

And yes of course this all sounds a bit far-fetched, and yes I am clutching at straws to believe that all that I have written will materialize as reality, however I would like to point out that nothing changes all at once ( it won't happen overnight but it will happen type scenario) and that legislation used to protect the encumbered industries has a way of creeping up on us and can sometimes bring with it stifling unintended consequences and at worst create  state sanctioned monopolies thats real and only aim is to benefit its shareholders . The news was once owned, it was set free by the internet, let’s hope that an outdated business model dose not take it back to where is was before, kicking and struggling in the process because  it is you and I that will lose.

Like this article? have something to add?  please leave a comment I would love to hear what you have to says, thanks.

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