Mainstream media aching from ‘bytes’ of New Media

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It was one of the 20th century’s most accomplished leaders, former British Prime Minister, the late Sir Winston Churchill who said: “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Sir Winston’s views have managed to inspire more than four generations that followed him. Perhaps his was a timeless wisdom…or perhaps he was a man driven simply by an unquestionable loyalty to zealously attend to, and fix, the unhealthy state of things in his time.

The 21st century world, however, is starkly different from Sir Winston’s wartime leadership in some ways. Public sentiment is now heavily influenced not by the defiant statements of strong leaders, but by, among other things, a conglomeration of print, electronic and social media.

The global media audience is so large that where some find it difficult to identify their own markets and niches, they attempt to ‘byte’ into the media that have succeeded where they have failed. The Trinidad Guardian is one such media company.

Part of Guardian Media Limited, the newspaper has consistently kept a stranglehold on the third position of three national print publications.

The publication has on occasion been behind some of the most outright misinformation, perhaps out of a lethargic approach to penetrating research, or perhaps out of a belief that being the oldest publication, even their mistakes will become truths.

TG Columnist, Mark Lyndersay has been able to personify that lethargy in his column of 11th April 2017, entitled The pliability of perception’.

Lyndersay begins his tirade saying: “There’s a real danger facing traditional media as it struggles to come to grips with the widespread distribution of factoids based on varying levels of untruth.”

So he believes that the Trinidad Guardian is struggling against the free and widespread distribution of facts. But this is a stark divergence from his media company’s Managing Director, Teresa White’s view that “we (Guardian Media Limited) faced a weak media market and this constrained our revenues, which dropped from $209.8 million in 2015 to $164.3 million in 2016.”

Nevertheless, his opening words defined the backward view taken by the rest of the column, perceiving print media as being in danger because: “…much of this confusion began years ago with the social media fuelled growth in satirical and parody news items that increasingly bore a convincing patina of fact.”

That is not only wrong; it is an utter misrepresentation of the fact that the rise of blogs and social media news has come about as a direct result of the mainstream’s inability to understand the evolving needs, tastes and preferences of a new generation of strong-willed and opinionated young men and women.

After a tiring run around the mulberry bush alluding to ‘fake news’, Lyndersay finally zeroed in on theTTWhistleblower, describing this news organisation as one that “features sharp post artwork and clever infographics, but wears its opposition credentials on its sleeve with every propaganda nuanced post.”

The problem is that Lyndersay attempts to condemn what he perceives by using the same approach he presumes to condemn!

It could be seen as self-deprecating to suggest ‘propaganda’ and ‘fake news’ when the facts are similar to those carried by the Trinidad Guardian in terms of crime, social issues, labour and industrial relations and current affairs.

The only difference is that the TTWhistleblower removes the wanton need to soften the facts by chasing after weak and at times, misleading counter-comments.

At the TTWhistleblower, the facts are laid out as they are and, save for analyses, opinions are left to the thousands of readers who are increasingly reliant on this organisation for the truth.

Even further is that the TTWhistleblower has habitually linked it’s research data to sources such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, an array of respected foreign print and electronic news agencies and the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. At times, the source of information has even been the Trinidad Guardian!

And at no time, in more than just a little bit of monotonous depth, did Lyndersay actually point to any fact or data that was untrue. The sorrowful sound and feel of the column was purely to rant about struggling against social media, but having no tool or strategy to protect mainstream market share.

The reason for that is the TTWhistleblower has given a commitment to its readers that it will ensure every publication is based on fact, corroborated data and underlined by the truth, whether inconvenient or not! More than that, the TTWhistleblower has worked hard to change the conventional approach of demanding that readers meet the media on their turf. Rather, we work to deliver news and facts to readers in a way that readers choose, at times they choose and in quantities and formats that they can best appreciate.

Sir Winston’s timeless comment on calling ‘attention to the unhealthy state of things’ rings true today almost 80 years after he spoke…mainstream’s failing health in media markets is not because of the competition, but might be because of their inability to compete.

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