Posted by: nickgerlich | March 12, 2008

I Can Digg It

A century ago, the New York Times proclaimed proudly they published “All the news that’s fit to print.” It was a bold claim, but it set that media outlet apart from all others, and became the gold standard for newspapers.

Fast-forward to the 1990s, and people were getting most of their news via television. The new mantra became “It it bleeds, it leads,” and explained the seeming sensationalism on the evening news. Blood and guts translated into ratings points to those who subscribed to the new media mindset.

But not until the last few years could people actually have a voice in the news. Until Web 2.0, we had to sit back passively and just absorb it, unable to have any bearing whatsoever.

DiggBut as I have said before, citizen journalism is now the media machine of the 21C, and in true web fashion, we the people are weighing in.

Digg is perhaps the best-known of the new media sites, where users can vote on their favorite news stories. And anyone with a website or blog can embed a Digg feed that is refreshed daily with the Top Ten Diggs.

No longer does it matter if it bleeds. No longer do we care if it is fit to print. No, all that matters is if we give our nod of approval, if the story pique our curiosity and arouses our inner seeker of knowledge.

Of course, Digg isn’t the only aggregator of this sort. Reddit provides a similar service, as does the feline Netscape, which is nearing the end of its allocation of 9 lives.

Naturally, the notion of private consumers being able to vote on the newsworthiness of the news has the old guard, the 4th Estate, a little bit nervous. It now means they are accountable to us. No longer can the media feed us what they want us to hear or read, all in the name of ratings. We are the Giver of Ratings. It’s almost like we know more than they.

Is there a danger in all of this? Sure, because a lot of times the most “Digged” news is really fluff and human interest stories. Often the economy, the war, etc., take a back seat, and this has not only journalists but also sociologists concerned. Is this just another cog in the wheel of Idiocracy?

Maybe so, but I can’t argue with the democratization of the media. It’s about time the rest of us have some say in things. And I’m also glad my Dad had that talk with me long ago, telling me to steer clear of journalism. “The big money is in business, son.”

Right you were, Dad. I can dig that.

Dr “I Just Don’t Know Where To Digg” Gerlich

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