Today's Sydney Morning Herald contains a remarkable story by respected journalist Paul Sheehan highlighting the battle traditional media faces to remain relevant in the Internet age.
Titled Floundering in a sea of change and using the Sarah Palin (US Republican Vice Presidential hopeful) story as an example, Sheehan notes how he immediately referred to YouTube for news on the nominee rather than traditional media sources. He points out that by the time he started researching Palin, 6 hours after the announcement, the Internet was in it's fourth phase of the news cycle.
When I heard that some obscure woman from Alaska had been selected as the Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee, my first reaction was not to check the cable news channels, or even the internet news sites. No, my first reaction was to go to YouTube.
By doing so, I was doing what the majority of people now do, using the internet to go straight to the source, unfiltered. I wanted to get my own sense of why this woman had been plucked from obscurity. On YouTube I knew I would be able to cut out the intermediary. And to understand Governor Sarah Palin, you really have to see her in action.
He compares this tot he biased reporting of the venerable New York Times, who in recent elections have chosen to colour their coverage depending upon their political leanings. Sheehan feels this is symptomatic of the problems facing the traditional press.
Everywhere there are signs of growing cynicism with the media: an unwillingness to pay for what can be obtained free on the internet, a refusal to shuffle through the old media information portals, and a contagious knowingness and irony about the traditional media's self-proclaimed role as moral guardians and custodians of the public good.
Sheehan concludes with references to both the Times and Fairfax's recent slashing of jobs and other issues:
When even the most famous brand in journalism is slashing staff, losing market value and attracting widespread criticism for bias, it underlines the reality that the cost structures and privileges of the old media are being swept away.
You don't have to look far. Organisations like the Herald are not merely in a battle for market share. They are in a battle for survival.
What is most remarkable about this story is its candour in finally acknowledging what many online have been pointing out for several years. The balance of power in the media is changin