Tag Archives: journalism

My Predictions for 2020

In Relevant magazine this month, there is a fascinating 14 page article (“Bringing 2020 Into Focus”) in which experts weigh in on what to expect in the coming decade, in areas like the environment, social justice, politics, culture, faith and science. As the “expert” in the cultural arena, I was commissioned to forecast the trends and changes I think will be most significant in the next 10 years. To read the whole spread, click here. But below I’ve excerpted a few sentences from the 4 trends I highlight.

One With the News:

Ten years ago we didn’t have YouTube and blogs were barely in their infancy. “Have it your way” was just a Burger King slogan. But now, “have it your way” is manifest destiny. It’s an inalienable right–a mantra that permeates everyone’s digital media existence–and by 2020, it will conquer more than just music libraries. It will define the fourth estate.

All signs point to a 2020 in which the news is no longer uniform, no longer top-down and no longer the same for any two people. The news will no longer be an externality, but a personal thing—for individuals, by individuals, about individuals.

It won’t just be about the ability to personalize the news people consume (through RSS feeds, Digg and personalized homepages), it will become more about people placing themselves in the thick of generating the news and being the news. CNN’s “iReporter” is the current industry standard for this “citizen journalism,” and sites like Newsvine–which attempt to involve average consumers in the generation of news–are perhaps a good indicator of what is to come. ()

The New Cultural Power Brokers:

Whether it’s the 17-year-old film critic blogger who talks up the unknown indie films or a music webzine like Pitchfork that rises to atmospheric importance because of a track record of reliably good taste, these everyday tastemakers will rule the roost of cultural capital in 2020. They will be the arbiters of worth-my-attention commodities for the niche audiences they twitter to. They will pan for gold in the muddy waters of DIY culture-making and elevate only that which deserves it. They will carry the carrots toward which the deep pocket conglomerates race to monetize, and though merely “intermediaries,” they will be the most indispensable link in the chain. ()

There Will Be No Place Like Home:

Home is making a comeback; “local” is the new “global.” And in 2020, people wonder why, back in the day, they were ever so antsy to leave.

Rising gas prices and struggling airlines will lead to continued escalation in transportation costs and the desire to “get out” will simply be crowded out by the realities of affordability. The “main street” local economy will thrive again and shipping costs will make homegrown business more viable. ()

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Instances of Inappropriate Censorship

Ever since Sarah Palin mania started a month ago, the media has whined and whined about the prospective Veep’s reluctance to allow them access to her life and thoughts at every second of the day. Just this week, many members of the media threw a fit because they couldn’t be in the room with Palin as she met with world leaders in New York. The press increasingly loathe Palin because she dares to scoff at their self-endowed prerogative to be “in on” whatever “story” they want. Just read this bitter rant from Campbell “Obama’s biggest fan” Brown.

Resentful members of the press claim that Palin’s avoidance is harming the free flow of information, of “truth.” As journalists, they are all about the freedom of information. But the unspoken truth of most journalists is that they are the biggest censors of all. They get the facts, then selectively report them. They hear and see the story, then re-tell it in the way they would like it to be.

Of course, it is not just journalists who do this. All of us believe in free speech in theory. But when that speech is dangerous or threatens something we hold dear, we don’t really shy away from trying to stifle it.

Two recent examples of the suspicious suppression of free speech:

YouTube Removes Obama Abortion Video
YouTube is increasingly showing its partisan colors this election cycle, as evidenced in the removal of a video produced by The Kansas Coalition for Life, called “Obama: WRONG Change for Children.” Sure, the video contains a few brief images of aborted fetuses, but there is far worse elsewhere on YouTube. Apparently YouTube’s only explanation for the video’s removal is that it did not meet a “Community Guideline.” This seems a nebulous reason to remove the video, which—as you can see if you watch below—may be creepily over-the-top, but is not really deserving of censorship.

Southern Baptist bookstore chain hides magazine with female pastors on cover

Bookstores have the right to carry and sell whatever they want, but when you have a deal to distribute a magazine and then take it off shelves because you disagree with the image on the cover, that is a little suspect. Such was the case when Lifeway Christian Stores, a chain of 100+ bookstores owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, took this month’s issue of GospelToday off its shelves and hid it behind the counter. Why? Because the cover of the magazine featured a photo of five female pastors—an idea that is evidently too hot to handle for the SBC.

Alas, these are just two current events that showcase the widespread practice of censorship in America today. Of course the argument could be made that censorship isn’t such a bad thing, in which case I’m totally fine with YouTube and the SBC censoring whatever they wish. But the problem is when these institutions feign protection of the free flow of thought and ideas—branding themselves as “open-minded” but then closing off discourse to the ideas they dislike. This is hypocrisy, which is even more annoying than censorship.