I grew up in the 1980s, when cable television was in its early days. Here in the United States, I bore witness to the transformation and expansion of television news from the "Big Three" networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) to what would gradually become the multitude of cable news channels that are available today.
As I graduated from the university in the early 1990s, the Internet began to become commercially available, and what would be classified as "news sources" evolved to include websites and blogs and podcasts not connected to corporate networks. Eventually the combination of mobile technology and social media made every connected person on the planet a potential "citizen journalist." Initiatives like #steemit take this even further, binding the information produced to an immutable, decentralized blockchain.
The result of all of this innovation is that news reporting has itself become decentralized. In reality, there are no "gatekeepers" of information anymore, since anyone and everyone can produce their own content. That carries some disadvantages, in that the free flow of information also allows the free flow of disinformation as well. People can lie. People can spread falsehoods and propaganda. People can cherry-pick data and only include things that support "their side" of any issue. That places more responsibility on the consumer of information to discern the truth from the lies.
However, the advantage of decentralized media outweighs the disadvantages. A decentralized news system means that ordinary individuals can hold the traditional press and media accountable. The traditional gatekeepers themselves have an agenda and a narrative they put forward, and without a decentralized media network, no one exists to challenge the falsehoods of the established newspapers and television and radio stations.
As an example, we can look at the case where teenagers from Covington Catholic High School in the United States were falsely accused of accosting and harassing a Native American protestor at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It turns out that the story was a complete misrepresentation of the facts, and many mainstream newspapers and TV stations were complicit in promoting the lie because it fit with a particular political point-of-view. If it had not been for alternative Internet media and the involvement of the decentralized media, the lie might have been maintained.
Currently, the media is taking a beating because, for over two years, it has been repeating the assertion that President Donald Trump illegally conspired with the Russian government to win the election in 2016. "Collusion" and the claims that Trump would be impeached and/or forced to resign for the crime had been taken as articles of faith and promoted daily since even before Trump took office:
Now that a two-year, independent special investigation has turned up absolutely no evidence that such crimes took place, the traditional media are in a position to explain why the story that they have told the world was a fictional one. Had there been no decentralized media during this time, there would have been no one else out there to provide access to the truth and to provide balance to the traditional media united in its spreading of propaganda.
You can't trust every source in a decentralized media system. However, the truth will be out there among the falsehoods and cover-ups, and no amount of government or corporate efforts to keep us from the truth and to believe their story can ever be successful again. It is up to us to be critical and discerning and to listen to more than one source and more than one point of view to reach the right conclusions. But it is decentralized media that makes all of it possible!
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