Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The fall of the mainstream media?

I'm not sure if you've taken note of this, but the bloggers are taking over.

There was a time when blogs were used for commentary on stories that had appeared in that days paper or on the TV news. Now TV, radio and the newspapers are being scooped regularly by the blogging community.

Over the past week, I can't count the number of stories I've heard that have started with "according to (fill in the blank) dot com ..." And I've read more than a handful of stories in WNY's leading newspaper, the Buffalo News, that have referenced topics I had read the day before ... or a couple days before ... on my favorite WNY media clearinghouse, WNYMedia.net.

WNYMedia.net is a sort of media co-op, giving a venue to several writers (including myself) to post their thoughts, analysis, and news scoops. It's a sort of one-stop shop for WNY blog thoughts. It lists four people on staff and 11 contributors. But there's even more than that.

I subscribe to a lot of blogs. Fifty or so. About half of them are from WNY. Most of them are updated daily. Even the mainstream folks have taken to using blogs to get the word out. Ironically, I use my talk shows to promote my blog ... and my blog to promote my talk shows.

There was a day, of course, when newspapers were the only game in town. Then came radio. And newspapers feared that radio would be their demise. But they survived. Then came TV. And newspapers are radio feared it would be their demise. But they survived. Then came the internet. And everyone's worried that it will be their demise.

And it might just be.

After all, the internet offers newspapers via blogs. It offers radio via podcasts and web streams. And TV via YouTube. It is everything the mainstream media offers ... but instantly ... and usually for free. Oh, and now, it's earlier, too.

Before I was a talk show host, I was a reporter. There was a piece of trash web site that would often steal information right from our paper ... and print it as though it was their own. Occasionally, they would get some information online before I got it in print. Oh, man, that was infuriating.

Imagine if your your job is to gather information and distribute it to the world. You work 40 hours each week with this sole goal. And then someone who has no training scoops you ... and for the mere joy of it. He's not even getting paid! Infuriating.

Of course, the honorable thing to do is to attribute the web site for scooping the story.

A few weeks ago, the Associated Press put the blogging world on notice: Don't use our stuff without paying for it. See, some unscrupulous bloggers would pick up AP stories and run them on their sites ... sans attribution.

But that seems to work both ways. Mainstream media has taken information from local blogs and run with it ... sans attribution.

And now ... they're on notice.