Mainstream media needs to evolve – or face extinction



At the core of the crisis gripping mainstream media and mainstream “thought leadership” in the Philippines is the way ordinary Filipinos remain trapped in social hierarchy. Rather than encourage debate that focuses on the merit of the ideas and arguments tabled, Filipinos lazily defer to rank, credential, and seniority. This is no thanks, of course, to the people Filipinos look up to — educated people, celebrities, political and economic leaders, teachers, etc. Rather an encourage everyone to engage and participate in discourse, they drive a wedge between themselves and “all the rest” of them.

A level playing field where merit is what determines the ascendancy and longevity of an idea is counterintuitive to many Filipinos — because there is lazy comfort in the hierarchy that continues to define an individual’s place in society. There are, we have been raised to believe, certain “important” people who we are obliged to listen to regardless of the substance in what they have to say. People like priests, European-looking people, “elders”, organisational honchos, and rich people, among others, enjoy an entitlement to monopoly over “free speech”. This is the reason why, despite online trolls being nothing new, having existed since the dawn of the Internet (and even earlier), we are told that we face a suddenly-virulent troll infestation that is “weaponising” the Internet. And the idea seems right because self-proclaimed “thought leader” and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa says so.

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What we really are in the midst of today is the mainstream and Establishment undergoing a rude awakening to the reality that Filipinos are increasingly turning to alternative sources of information and points of view and challenging tradition. People like Ressa would like to dismiss these alternatives as inconsequential nuisances — they are the “trolls”, “anonymous” Netizens, and mere riffraffs who dare go against those who, society dictates, are anointed as “enlightened” by their private school-issued masters degrees and PhD’s, their extensive reading lists of scholarly books and journals, and their cozy relationships with the corporate publishers of their intellectual work.

There is, however, a stark difference between the members of the Establishment and the rapidly-growing community of “nuisance” content producers nipping at their heels. People like Ressa and traditional “published authors” owe their influence to institutions and organisations that employ them, endorse their credentials, and sponsor mass distribution of their work. In the olden days when the means of mass communication was capital-intensive and virtually inaccessible to the vast majority of people, this class of people rested on their laurels, assured that their lofty positions at the top of the media food chain was secure.

Unfortunately for them, the Internet, and then social media, happened. In social media, everyone has a shot at acquiring a mass audience that could rival traditional media. And unlike the Maria Ressas and the Richard Heydarians of this world, social media-savvy Netizens relied on their own cleverness to lift themselves up by the bootstraps to Internet fame and build their own respective brands from scratch. The notion that backing by an institutional body or a corporate sponsor is essential to being entitled to the eyeballs of a mass audience had become a dinosaur.

In the same way that an environmental shift hundreds of millions of years ago turned the dinosaurs’ size into a liability and the obscure swiftness and agility of small furry creatures into assets, social media is reshaping the media landscape to favour little numerous players running below the line of sight of big lumbering corporate beasts hobbled by an insatiable appetite for capital. The Earth’s fossil record shows what kind of intelligence emerges from such a shift in an ecosystem, so today’s dinosaurs in the media should pay heed. Those that fail to evolve when the climate changes are doomed to extinction.

19 Replies to “Mainstream media needs to evolve – or face extinction”

    1. Oops, we have a parrot here.

      If you have nothing to offer here, just stop typing and go outside for once. You’re not even helping.

    2. You’re in the wrong comment thread. Rappler can seriously use your impeccable logic. Quit wasting your time in GRP trying to compose snide replies and focus more on helping your your patron Maria Ressa and the rest of her jaundiced cabal. Because apparently, what’s comically “obvious” to you seem to be beyond her mental faculties to process. =)

    3. I’m just saying that of course not just media but all industry needs to adapt to changing times. its a truism why write an article it could just be one sentence. why are you all so sensitive?

      1. Yellow brained morons love to impose on everyone even down to which speech must be deemed “acceptable”. Sounds Communist to me.

      2. If someone here is sensitive here then it’s you and your lack of intelligence is showing it.

        Admit it: you’re just grasping on straws.

  1. We can assume that since Heydarian’s ego was publicly butthurt, it was natural for him to resort to condescension to redeem the said ego.
    On the other hand, if he really deserves credibility, he could’ve simply challenged the argument itself since he already dished some kind of attention to it. It was a wasted chance.

  2. So what makes social media and blogs like this any better. Mainstream media has it’s problems but social media and alternative news sources need to get off the “high horse” as well.

    If the consequences Mainstream Media spreading misleading information its exponentially worse if social media does the same because the latter even has less when it comes to checks and balances.

    I’ve seen social media also spread their share of lies and exaggerations. Pro-Duterte sites posting and sharing news from Satirical sources as legit. Spreading false statistics (like Philippines poverty rate at 80%) and so forth.

    1. @shooter:

      This is the reason, you have to use your Common Sense in reading information. Think…do not just believe what is written, or what you heard, or what you see; in the mainstream media, the social media, or any media of any kind.

      Research also, what they are talking about. This is the Age of Information Technology. Your computer is just infront of you !

      USE YOUR COMMON SENSE !!! Do not be a lazy spoon fed Dude !

    2. That seemed like a legit argument against social media and blogs. But you’d have to give a better argument for people to opt for mainstream. There’s atleast a bigger pool of information in alternative media. The mainstream has so far only given official realities according to their own judgment/projection -that don’t match & don’t make sense with the reality that people see. You know, there is a scientific basis for instinct.

  3. The dinosaurs became extinct, because they have huge bodies; but small brains…

    It is like the mainstream media now; they have huge capitals and networks backing them. With “credentials”, showing to us, that they are the bearer of “truth”, and paragons of wisdom…

    The Filipino Trolls, bots, serious bloggers, Web Site writers, and other internet nuisance, have only their computers, and their “ability to write and blog”…their capital are themselves !

    The cockroach is the true survivor from the dinosaur era. It outlived the dinosaurs. It is because: it is small and agile…it can run fast…and it eats everything !

    I am not comparing the internet bloggers to the cockroach…it is just a hypothetical expression by metaphor , to enlighten my point!

    1. If you need a heart bypass would you like to have a “mainstream” surgeon with credentials or would you prefer a quack doctor/faith healer?

      1. Most of the Mainstream media journalists, are paid hacks of politicians. They lost their credibility already…most are corrupted by our political system!

        If I want a heart bypass, and a corrupt heart surgeon is operating on me ! I would go to another heart surgeon for a second opinion; or a third heart surgeon, for a third opinion…

        I may not need the heart operation….the corrupt surgeon is worse than a quack doctor. Because, he is after my money…

        Internet Bloggers , Website writers, etc… are not “Quack Writers”…some are more educated, more informed and more intelligent by those credentialed mainstream media journalists.

        We are talking here of : CREDIBILITY; CORRUPTION of the media by politicians and being a PAID HACK of politicians or political parties…


        You can have your REBUTTAL, if you don’t agree , with any blogger! The reader has the final say, whom to believe !

      2. And who told you ALL bloggers and non-mainstream writers/journalists do not have the expertise to talk about things? That’s the kind of simplistic thinking that makes it easy for mainstream journos to dupe the public in the first place. Too beholden on credentials.

  4. Next thing you know, these “thoughtleaders” have evolved into being thoughtpolice.

    “Advocates of political correctness attempt to homogenize our language and thought not only to enhance the self-esteem of minorities, women, and beneficiaries of the welfare state but also to preserve the moral image of the welfare state itself. One approach to reaching this goal is to eliminate disparaging, discriminatory, or offensive words and phrases and the substitutions of harmless vocabulary at the expense of economy, clarity, and logic.”

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