Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian philosopher and professor said that media themselves and not the stories they carry are important; their characteristics being more significant and influential than their content. He famously proclaimed that “the medium is the message”.
With the myriad reports of the decline of newspapers and broadcasters it is tempting to believe that what McLuhan pronounced is in the process of being disproved. It is argued that the channel is not important, the stories, if good enough will find us. Content rules supreme. Well yes and no. By way of example I cross posted the same story in two blogs last week. Here at PR Media Blog and on PR and The Social Web. The story (about real and fake celebrity twitters) gained more than double the number views here at PRMB, because this is the blog with more authority, both in the literal sense and in the Technorati sense. (Google the words PR and Blog if you need confirmation).
Whilst new arrivals on the web battle to gain trust and authority much of the media old guard arrives on the web with their authority established. Journalistic ethics and accuracy will continue to carry weight no matter how easy it becomes for arrivistes to establish a presence through the web. There is good reason for this; we can trust traditional media because we have learnt that the trust is well placed and because they operate checks and balances to ensure quality and veracity. In time many print newspapers will disappear but the best will survive, thrive and continue to set the news agenda, with their pixellated versions gradually replacing the ink and paper.