Postings on the present Blog have focused of late on matters of information and the forms by which it is disseminated.
Information, most believe, is the foundation for excellence in most activities; from the high-mindedness of politics and policy to the more mundane and ordinary of collecting.
Syrupy Victorian nostalgia may suggest a certain bemoaning of the passing of now-named “legacy” media.
Though one notes, lest its obituary be prematurely published, the passage of legacy media has yet to be completed.
Syrup to the side, matters of significance regarding the Press and Information remain despite any magnetism of nostalgia.
As reports of a shrinking audience for print grow, and as empirical evidence for diminished numbers of print media outlets increases, what can be offered both to legacy and digital media operators and their audiences to sustain their roles?
The most significant role for audiences is informed citizenship. It is, after all, the assumption underlying democracy. Perhaps less noble, albeit just as (idiosyncratically) important, being informed is also the foundation for good collecting (of anything).
Traditionally, the media’s roles include informing, entertaining, advising, recording, interpreting, contextualizing, acting as a booster and functioning as a watchdog. Capitalists add another role: earning a profit.
And maybe most significant among the Press’s functions is the sentiment encapsulated in this phrase: To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
How well do digital media meet those two goals? Snarky comments and unbridled sarcasm don’t count.
And how well are the legacy media performing their responsibilities in this regard? The occasional in-depth report “counts,” but by itself does not salvage a reputation nor meaningfully fulfill the public interest obligation.