Sarah Palin has started a new subscription-only web channel that she says will allow her audience to create a community and discuss the news with "no need to please the powers that be."
Good for her, I argue in a new Time.com column:
Palin's new project is the latest sign that we live in world of gloriously fragmented media and culture that allows just about anyone to express themselves more fully than at any time in human history. That's a great thing, even if it means trouble for long-established media companies and empowers conspiracy ranters such as Alex Jones.
Twenty years ago, just as the Internet was developing into a mass medium that catered to individuals' unique tastes and interests in unprecedented ways, critics were foolishly flipping out about "media consolidation" and how a few companies such as AOL Time Warner would control all our news and information (as if!). Now, they are more likely to worry over the loss of a common news culture and the seeming ability of people to consume only self-confirming points of view. That may seem plausible on the face of things, but it's equally wrong….
Far from walling ourselves off in ideological gardens that tell us just what we want to hear, "the majority of Americans across generations now combine a mix of sources and technologies to get their news each week" [according to a study by the American Press Institute]. We go deep on stories that interest us, reading multiple accounts from multiple places to get more information—something that wasn't possible back in the days of three broadcast channels and one or two hometown newspapers. Perhaps most interestingly, we apply a sliding scale of credibility based on sources, with 43% having high trust levels in reports from well-established news organizations, 21% from "word of mouth" ones, and even less from unsubstantiated social media sources.
So welcome to the 21st Century media world, Sarah Palin. New voices and platforms are always welcome, but it's a jungle out here. You don't have to "please the powers that be," but you do have to bring real value to your readers and viewers – and that's no walk in the park in the mediascape of endlessly fascinating and proliferating choices.