A Treatise on Media

You know, there’s been a bit of a dust up lately over media in central Illinois, from the fact that the Springfield paper is dying on the vine, to changes in electronic media. I was going to address some of that, but instead I thought I’d look into Lee’s crystal ball so some of the younger of you can see what’s on the horizon.

Regarding print media:  It’s a dinosaur. The day of having the newspaper delivered to your porch or picking one up at an “honor box” is almost over. Without naming names, take a look at your local paper. It probably has been gobbled up into a conglomerate. There may be some local reporters left, a few ad sales representatives, and maybe a photographer or two, but much of the work is being done elsewhere. The internet and other electronic file transfer has made it possible to consolidate the production. With a chain of newspapers in the company, the editing of stories for multiple papers may be done in one city and electronically transfer the files for printing in another. Oh, the ads? Laid out and produced in India. Could this be?  Yep.

After the presses are done printing that “oldspaper” (remember, by the time it’s written, edited and printed, it’s not new anymore. It’s been on the internet for hours,) and the trucks have hauled the bundles of newspapers to their towns, eventually it winds up on your porch. If you have a personal attachment to holding that paper in your hands, you should begin to wean  yourself from it. I doubt there will be many hard copy newspapers around 5 years from now. These “print” companies are trying to make the shift to an internet delivery platform, but it may be too little, too late. I’m just glad our household doesn’t have a bird. Whatever would we line the bird cage with?

Electronic media: Those of you who will be alive 25 years from now will see a whole new landscape. Literally. Those TV and radio towers with their cold, snapping strobe lights, or warm blinking red marker beacons will be gone. Most of them, anyway. Delivery of radio and TV will no longer be through a transmitter and antenna. Already, you’re seeing video and sound delivery by the internet. In the not too distant future, broadcasters will be able to eliminate expensive transmitters (and the electricity to run them) tower maintenance, and everything associated with that.  Instead, their programming will be delivered by some different vehicle. Internet?  Maybe. Or more likely, there will be a different way which will be developed and become low cost and popular virtually overnight.

What’s this mean? Bedroom broadcasting. As I sit here pontificating in my man cave, I have a laptop with enough music and adequate software to output a stream that you’d swear was a radio station. A little money, some significant knowledge, and the will to put in the time, and just about anyone is up and running with their own “live” radio station. Podcasts on demand are even easier, and already commonplace. Again, no need for a licensed transmitter or tower.

But what about TV? Same story. If you have the wherewithal, you can be a TV broadcaster over the internet…and in 20 years who knows what platform. You can shoot some video of the kids singing in the living room, upload it to your favorite social media site, and be an “on demand” broadcaster right now. If you have the knowledge, you can do it live. You just need to know how, have the hardware and software, and…and this is a big “and,” have the CONTENT.  Chances are that the general viewing public doesn’t care about watching little Gretel and Hansel singing in the living room.

But what about something that has no copyright which might be of interest?  Let’s say for sake of example, a speech on the steps of the state capitol. IF you know how and have an iPad which can connect to the internet with a fast enough connection, there you go. Your constraints on quality are limited by your finances and desire.

Maybe if you’re out storm spotting, and can get a fast enough internet connection, you can show it live on your own website. If you have the right software, for less than $500 you can have a multi camera, HD, shoot which will rival the 40 foot production trailers that cost tens of thousands of dollars to rent for a day.  All right there out of your own SUV, or basement studio.

The TV stations know this, and they’re bringing out content on their secondary channels.  When the demand for “live” streaming on the internet (or whatever future platform) is sufficient, and the bandwidth is available, the sky is the limit.

The era of the “citizen broadcaster” is here. It’s just not widespread. Mostly because of demand. But here’s an idea…maybe uncle Ed has an iPad that links to the internet, and he could shoot your wedding and stream it live for folks who can’t make the trip from Piety Hill to the wedding venue. Already, we’re seeing a way to utilize broadband as a “citizen broadcaster.”

Great idea. And as with all great ideas, I’m sure the government will figure out a way to regulate and TAX it, because anything worth having or doing is worth taxing.

OH, you might be interested in some tornado tips. http://centralilwx.com/tornado

Just sayin’ for now.



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