I find it exasperating to contemplate Zimbabwe’s role in the whole Web vs Media battle playing out across the world.
“Self-publishing by someone of average talent is not very interesting,” American TV exec Barry Diller told The Economist in 2006. “Talent is the new limited resource.” At a technology conference that year, he declared, “There’s just not that much talent in the world, and talent almost always outs.”
According to Andrew Keen’s (elitist) perspective in “The Cult of the Amateur” talent is a resource of fixed supply. The existing institutions of the publishing and broadcast world are already doing an efficient and thorough job of finding that talent and giving it a platform.
All this other stuff that’s spewing forth from the Web’s profusion of blogs and podcasts and videos is just dross that obscures the real talent’s output.
What is most perplexing is the contempt with which the Establishment media generally views the New. This is particularly evident in closed societies like Zimbabwe and Iran, where often amateur publishing is the only source of balance and yes, truth.
These are places where Establishment media equals State media equals Controlled media; the information space has been constricted to a manageable trickle of independent views in a deluge of propaganda. The web naturally provides an outlet for divergent views, and quite often works to explode the notion that all the “talent” on offer is already filtered through to traditonal media outlets.
So, what the feck am I on about?
Well, I’m reading The Herald, the flagship title of Zimpapers, that last bastion of Party values and sycophantic ass-kissing.
“THE International Monetary Fund will continue to provide policy advice and targeted technical assistance in the context of regular visits to Zimbabwe.”
Wow, that’s awesome news, isn’t it? But look a little deeper and there’s no mention of numbers, and this is from a statement by the head of the IMF’s mission to Zimbabwe. So I did a little Googling, and guess what?
“The International Monetary Fund has told Zimbabwe that it will not provide the country with more funds until its existing $1bn debts are settled.”
No mention of THAT in The Herald‘s story. Fair enough, they tend to pick and choose, attempting to portray as positive an image of Zimbabwe as humanly possible. But trawling through an adverse report to cherry-pick the tiniest scraps of reinforcement is not just deceptive, it’s in an ethical grey area that I’m sure even the weakest journalism student is clear about.
To say that the best and brightest of our reporting talent in this country is concentrated at Zimpapers and The Independent Group is stupidity of the highest order.
That’s why the media space will remain closed here, because not only would the truth shine through in a new daily , a cursory comparison with The Herald and Sunday Mail would reveal their reporters as mostly talentless hacks peddling massive falsehoods (heh), whose standard of English grammar would shock a ZJC teacher.
Bloggers may be amateurs, but where there’s a void to be filled, talent will always shine through. And until the Old world starts listening to the New, newspapers will continue to go the way of the dodo.
The trees must be smiling.