Media Revolution: Thought-Provoking Articles on What’s Happening Now – And What’s About to Occur

September 10, 2009

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

The old rules no longer apply. The new rules haven’t been written. But out of chaos comes opportunity. Those of us with decades of experience should be leading, not following, in a media sector undergoing profound transformation.

I used the paragraph above to describe Media Revolution, the new Group I “own” and manage at Linked In, welcoming experienced journalists “to theorize, debate, and collaborate on how to navigate a sector in flux.”

I’ve decided to crystallize some of my ideas about what’s happening now – and what may happen as we go forward – in a series of articles exploring various aspects of the media sector’s transformation, specifically on the Internet.

For now, I’m publishing these stories as a subseries on my EllenInteractive blogsite. As the series develops, they may be relocated to their own site or become part of another media blog.

Much of what I write may be controversial, particularly to those with a stake in the status quo or to anyone who believes a change in current media sector “Gatekeepers” may decrease the influence of certain political groups or other elites which they support.

Others, I hope, will find my ideas helpful – and hopeful – in illustrating what seems to be amiss right now; what needs to be changed; and how the greater public of Internet users generally and those of us in “Little Media” specifically might work together to effect profound change in how information reaches our audiences and which information is “permitted” to reach them.

Because make no mistake, what’s happening right now is a major battle between so-called “Big Media” and its political and financial allies and all of us upstart publishers and entrepreneurs who have broken away from Big Media the past few years.

It is nothing less than an attempt to oust the Official Gatekeepers of this country’s media establishment from the extreme domination of viewership and influence they’ve enjoyed for the past two or three decades – an abnormal concentration of power, in American terms, which many think has paralleled a similar unhealthy maldistribution of wealth and influence in other sectors.

Interestingly enough, those with the clearest sense of such inequalities in Internet access and influence are two large groups you’d think would have plenty of both: Baby Boomers and the political Right (and Center-Right). I say this, because despite their size and collective financial clout, both of these groups have had to fight tooth and nail for Web viewership against the institutionalized biases of the major search engines and social media sites towards today’s Big Media, which tends overwhelmingly to skew to the Left of the political spectrum.

This is changing, though – perhaps rapidly changing. (Please see my hard-hitting story on these changes, Will Boomers – and the GOP – Save Twitter?

Is Big Brother Here? And Is He An Algorithm?

Both Boomer bloggers and website owners and those representing the political Right-of-Center have also reported widespread malware attacks on their ability to keep functioning on-line, putting them in the forefront of another media battleground – Internet safety.

Safety issues are now on everyone’s mind, however, after widely-publicized malware attacks on such major sites as Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, breeding widespread disgust for the costly and sometimes devastating damage wreaked by “Script Kiddie” hackers.

Although there is clearly some disagreement about whether or not organized groups of hackers have tacit – or even formal – ties to political entities, particularly those on the Far Left, there is no disagreement on one important point: Everyone concerned about political freedoms, especially Freedom of Speech, needs to support Internet safety and equal Internet access for everyone, even those with views considered other than “politically correct” by some.

Because even more than financial clout, the ability to control the media equals political power. And more and more, the source of such media control resides in the Internet.

One aspect of such control that many find particularly disturbing is that recent technological “advances” in autonomic computing and so-called botnets now allow for the establishment of Cyber-Gatekeepers which control the flow of Internet access and information.

These Cyber-Gatekeepers are often linked to Big Media or its affiliates, which implies some overt conflict-of-interest from the outset. But one wonders if even Big Media is prone to lose control of these Cyber-Gatekeepers at some point. Think of Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster.

It’s bad enough, say many, if the New York Times or Google or CNN or Fox News or Disney has excessive influence over what we hear, read, and discuss. But it’s worse if people are taken out of the equation and programs – maybe mathematical formulas – are allowed to take control of the public conversation on issues crucial to our economy, country – and world – going forward.

We’ll expand on this topic in future entries. But this series will begin with what seems a straightforward topic on which everyone can agree, controlling Internet “spam.”

Not so! I hope you will see that the topic of “spam” – what it actually is and who should have the power to control it – is anything but simple and straightforward. Indeed, it is actually quite complicated and quite controversial.

As are many other topics this series will highlight.

Please keep tuned. Because the Media Revolution has already begun.

For the first article in this series, “Spam I Am Not – The Big Media Weapon Hidden in Plain Sight,” go to:

7 Responses to “Media Revolution: Thought-Provoking Articles on What’s Happening Now – And What’s About to Occur”

  1. Linda S. Says:

    I do believe that George Orwell’s 1984 and ‘Truthspeak’ has become reality.

    I do not trust any of the so-called Big Media anymore.

    News is created and spun according to opinion. Opinion should be in the Editorial columns, not in hard news reporting.

  2. Bob Stover Says:

    I am not a publisher, but I am a person who derives a large portion of my information and news from the Internet.

    The forces unleashed by the Patriot Act on users of the Internet is truly frightening in its scope. To me it does not matter who started this ball rolling on dubious grounds, what bothers me is that these programs never go away. Even before 9-11, government was using its broad powers to intercept our private e-mails and using encryption busting devices to gather all kinds of information about ordinary Americans.

    This kind of authority, once granted to government, never goes away. So, it doesn’t matter if you are a Clinton hater, a Bush hater, or somewhere in between, the forces that these two presidents unleashed have so encroached on our freedoms that we will never get them back.

    Add to that the invasion into our private affairs by commercial interests “phishing” in our computers, and the mind can envision some pretty good reasons to be mistrustful of the Intenet.

    Commercial, pre-packaged software with anti-virus and firewall protection give Americans a false sense of security. These pre-packaged software items only protect against the known viruses and malware and do nothing to protect us from those mischievous persons who write their own code day after day and put it out there as a prank.

    Our information garnered in both legitimate and illegitimate forays into our privacy are then packaged and sold to anyone with the price of admission (to our computers). Spam follows as surely as day follows night follows day.

    Now, say what you will about spam, but it’s out there and it’s a reality that’s never going away. Besides, like the old saying that, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, what constitutes “spam” varies widely from user to user.

    Bringing this back around to media access and media control, the same forces that have gathered our personal information have also sold some or all of it to media outlets.

    Thus every day I am inundated with e-mails from the Huffington Post, Fox News, The Weekly Standard, Truthout, World Weekly Press, and an indescribable number of blogs.

    What I gather from all of this is that everyone who bought my information knows I like news and am politically active. What they haven’t figured out is whether I’m a liberal, a conservative, a communist, a libertarian or just plain “other”.

    Thus I get innundated from all sides with e-mails containing links to news stories from one political viewpoint or another, admittedly mostly liberal.

    What I don’t get is a lot of spam from the so-called MSM. I subscribe to the NYTimes on-line website, so I expect to get e-mails from them about breaking news, but what I get more often is a link to a sports-related story or an offer to buy discounted theater tickets, or tourist packages to visit NYC.

    So, as far as I am concerned, it seems like the overwhelming interest of the MSM is not in controlling the national dialogue on political issues. It’s replacing the lost revenue streams from the drop in people reading their advertisers’ circulars in the paper editions whose circulation keeps dropping. To coin a phrase, “and so it goes . . .”

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:


      Great blog-within-a-blog!

      But again, the official definition of “spam” only includes correspondence with some sort of commercial purpose. The correspondent has to want to part you from your money in some way.

      If someone is disseminating information – whether you like it or not – without a commercial purpose, it isn’t spam.

      Otherwise, I think your commentary is right on the mark.

  3. Michael Haltman Says:

    Hi Doc:

    There is no doubt that the Big or mainstream media is no longer a viable or reliable news source. It is up to the rank and file citizens to become involved and stand up and speak about what they believe to be right.

    Certain social news sites such as Digg seem to definitely get involved in censoring those discussions and those doing the discussing that they don’t deem to be relevant.

    Let all of us do our share and take personal responsibility.

    Mike Haltman
    The Political and Financial Markets Commentator

  4. Paul Skidmore Says:

    The Internet spins opinion in a million different directions. Our task is to sort it all out. Big Media’s day is passing fast. The playing field is now more equal.

  5. Rob Fletcher Says:

    I’d like to respond to one thing that Bob Stover said when he spoke about the encroachments on our liberties and how these programs, once started, “never go away.”

    Please remember the bloody American Revolutionary War. By winning that war, we made all the tyranny of King George III go away. We did so by declaring our independence as a nation and fighting for our freedoms.

    We can and must make these encroachments on our liberties “go away.” Each State in our Union has equal powers under the Constitution to the Federal Government (10th Amendment), but no State has authority over the local Sheriff. This is the beauty of our Constitutional protections against tyranny.

    The Federal Government has no authority to pass these laws against US citizens.

    We must take back our country. Part of this is taking back our media. We must reverse all laws that encroach on our liberty and part of this process must be the dismantling of Big Media.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:


      I don’t think Big Media is likely to be “dismantled” EVER.

      But the Internet levels the playing field considerably. In fact, it brings in myriad new Players, who nobody much expected to be there.

      In addition, the fact that so many experienced journalists – like me! – are now plying our trade within “Little Media” increases the chances that the ranks of Official Gatekeepers may swell.

      I’m going to treat this point in a future story.

      But please also pay attention to another theme in the Introduction: That Big Media itself may be putting much too much trust in automated systems – the Frankenstein’s Monsters which can – and do – turn on their Masters almost daily.

      It’s one thing if the Official Gatekeepers are actual humans we don’t like.

      It’s quite another thing if they are Software we don’t like!

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