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Sure Bets in the Coming News Year

What changes and trends can we expect on the U.S. media scene in the coming new year?
 
 
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What changes and trends can we expect on the U.S. media scene in the coming new year?

First, it's clear that at long last the tide has begun to turn regarding relations between a once-complaisant and complicit American media and an increasingly troubled and vulnerable Bush Administration. With blood already in the water -- and lots more to come -- watch for our previously timid mainstream media to morph into voracious sharks circling an ever-more vulnerable ship of state and its Captain Queeg-like commander-in-chief.

Look also for the early rounds of the 2008 Presidential race to come into increasing focus as the year grinds on. The media loves the new, of course, so expect a rash of optimistic and positive coverage of the fresh, dark horse (no pun intended) candidacy of Barack Obama -- to be followed in short order by the inevitable backlash of cynical, negative stories, trumped inevitably by the Third Act of his re-discovery and redemption.

And of course there will be lots of dumb talk, useless analysis and thumb sucking about the issues of race and gender, as Obama and Hillary Clinton vie for the Democratic nomination for the presidency -- and the media contemplates the possibility of either America's first black president or its first female one. This will be followed in close order by a lot of cable chatter and opinion-izing about how Hillary must prove her manliness. At the same time, Barack will be forced to prove his blackness to black Americans while convincing white Americans he's really one of them -- and not...one of them!

Other sure bets in the coming media year include an ever-growing convergence of New Media and Old, and of the worldwide web and the broadcast world. Watch for the continued rise of citizen journalism, 2.0 social news networks like Newstrust.net and a growing reliance on user-generated content by the smartest of the Big Media Players. Those that embrace the coming change will prosper and thrive, while those that fear and filter it in a vain effort to maintain their control will trend first toward growing irrelevance, then to oblivion, and finally -- dinosaurs that they are -- to all-out extinction.

Expect longtime audience trends -- lower ratings for television and less circulation for newspapers -- to continue and exacerbate, as newspapers hemorrhage readers and viewers desert broadcast outlets and flock to the internet.

Expect also that television networks and newspapers will continue to respond by slashing news industry jobs -- 44,000 already gone in just five years and no end in sight.

Finally, expect at least some of more of the same -- more deregulation, more consolidation, more stupidification and dumbing down -- and, of course, expect, count on and plan to wallow in -- more Britny Spears, more Lindsay Lohan, and more Paris Hilton. Maybe next year they'll at least be able to keep their knickers on, but who knows? In media world, some things never change. Happy News Year!

Filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor writes the Media Is A Plural blog.

 
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