Writing recently on the ABC website, journalist Jonathan Holmes gave a terrific summary of the differences between old (analogue print and broadcast) media and new (digital online) media and their corresponding protagonists.
He described traditionally trained journalists as ‘the priesthood of communications in the analogue age’ and contrasted them with Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who he describes as ‘a child of the digital age and a journalistic anarchist’.
Traditional journalists are mostly morons who have been trained to communicate to morons, and many of them have excessive and unrealistic perceptions of their importance and abilities. Commercial print and broadcast media are aimed at a low literacy level to cater for the average reading age of the barely literate and cognitively mediocre masses.
Commercial media insults the intelligence of the cognitive elite with its clumsy, tedious and repetitive ‘inverted pyramid‘ writing formula and its banal, narrow-minded focus on sensation and celebrity.
Holmes notes that ‘many natives of the digital world are becoming increasingly impatient of the ‘gatekeeper’ role claimed by the mainstream media’. Yes, we are. The cognitive elite are often digital natives because they have the capacity to quickly learn and manipulate digital communication tools, and they have found the failure of media corporations to adapt to the digital age to be incredibly tedious.
Of course, football players photographing each others penises and sharing the pictures on Facebook could also be described as digital natives, but I believe the term is meant to imply a conscious, measured and sophisticated use of the technology.
Members of the cognitive elite don’t need the superficial editorial practices and inadequate interpretative abilities of media corporations. With our education and innate abilities we can interpret masses of information and data for ourselves with far less journalistic meddling.
In the digital age there is no single mass audience. There are many distinct audiences. The audience has fragmented and each different audience needs to be spoken to separately in a suitable manner. Unfortunately, because the cognitively elite are such a small percentage of the population, there is little commercial imperative to speak to us in ways that suit us.
The gatekeepers will never meet the needs of cognitively elite media anarchists. They are simply to slow, too boring, too conservative and too stupid to understand our needs. Commercial media is losing the cognitive elite as an audience because it offers us nothing. We’re making our own media now so that we no longer have to suffer being spoken down to. If commercial media wants to regain our attention, it will have to learn to speak up to our level.