The FCC, Weblogs, And Inequality

from the taking-a-different-perspective dept

The always interesting Clay Shirky has done a good job (yet again) of taking a topic of debate and shifting the perspective a bit to give you some more to think about. In this case, he’s looking at the highly politicized debate over the FCC’s decision yesterday to rollback some of the restrictions on media ownership. Shirky, unlike most writers on the subject, doesn’t pick one side of the debate but tries to reframe the debate entirely. He points out that there’s always a constant battle in setting up a media landscape between diversity, equality and freedom – of which you can only have two at any particular time. He goes through an explanation of why this is, and compares the various scenarios (and their tradeoffs). He points out that the weblog world shows that even in a world where media is diverse and free – it does not end up being equal. Certain blogs get a lot more attention than others. I need to think this through in a bit more detail – but my initial reaction is to wonder about the whole “equality” part of this. I’ve always been confused when people suggest that any particular viewpoint isn’t getting an “equal” hearing. Not all viewpoints deserve an equal hearing. The nice nature of the “diverse and free” model, though, is that it lets anyone do their best to make sure they do get a “fair” hearing – which is more important in my mind than an “equal” hearing. The risk, of course, is being drowned out by mob rule – but, in the end, that comes down to an issue of marketing, rather than fairness.

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