Taken for granted

A mixture of fact, opinion, interpretation and salesmanship, it may cause laughter, distress or rage.
It is a textbook of what is happening now, but it is more current than any textbook.
It outlives any politician; it stimulates involvement.
It is the day-to-day ledger of the economics that affect every citizen, and of the events that help him to live more pleasantly, to buy intelligently, to improve his community, to vote wisely, and to live as a reasonably knowledgeable human being.
Local business could not sell its products efficiently without it.
For a retail advertiser it is the primary way to inform the public of what is for sale, at what price, and where.
It is a measuring stick for both seller and buyer. It supplies the opportunity to compare, to recall and to evaluate.
Society is fragmented into hundreds, thousands, of organisations and units which need to reach the public with a story or a statement.
In an increasingly impersonal environment, members of a single community would become even more isolated from each other without the paper. ♦

No, no, not the internet. The newspaper.
This is a direct quote from Gannett Newspapers 1969 Annual Report. It describes newspapers as both the nervous system and the heartbeat of the community.

Perhaps its authors were a little biased, but I think it shows that people connecting through an outside medium is nothing new.

What is new, however, is the opportunity that we now have to share our own content, and the number of platforms on which we do it. New tools and technology mean that the power of distribution has shifted from the publishing house to the produser. What’s more, the ease with which I can do this would astound the editor of any newspaper in the 70s:

Its presence is taken for granted — but it may have taken combined efforts of hundreds of persons to put it there: reporters, accountants, printers, paper handlers, drivers, circulation men, plate and ink handlers, photographers, scores of other highly specialised individuals — and a regiment of newspaper delivery boys.

Literally in my pocket are tools that replace almost all of these people. A few taps or clicks and anybody in the world can view the content I have created.

Of course this raises important questions about the kind of content I am creating.
Am I telling the truth?
Am I stealing someone else’s work?
Am I benefiting from framing the facts in a certain way?

It can be hard to tell.

Am I violating someone’s privacy?
Am I encouraging hate?

If I am, what can you do about it?

I might now be a competitor, but I think the 1970s editor probably has other more pressing concerns about me. His newspaper may not have changed very much, but I have.
I am no longer a passive audience. I do not need the the newspaper to ‘buy more intelligently’, to ‘vote wisely’ or to ‘live reasonably’. The newspaper does not serve as my ‘message centre’. In fact, I do not need the newspaper at all. Instead, I choose to wade through other user-generated content on Google, Twitter, Facebook, all platforms which have replaced the newspaper as the nervous system of my society.

It seems that it is the newspaper that has taken me for granted.


THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER… (1970, November 20). Western Herald (Bourke, NSW : 1887 – 1970), p. 3. Retrieved November 13, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103965437


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