A powerhouse of a piece by James Fallows in The Atlantic (Part 1 in a series).
Here’s how I finally understood the difference that a new generation of production tools has made: by comparing it to my own business, writing and publishing.
Everyone in journalism knows the line attributed to A.J. Liebling, in The New Yorker: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Liebling wrote that in 1960. As more-or-less recently as that in historical terms, if you wanted to disseminate your thoughts to people outside your household, you simply could not do it yourself. You had no option but to work through a limited number of powerful, capital-intensive enterprises. You had to convince a newspaper or magazine to publish your writings—because only they controlled the printing presses, delivery networks, and newsstands. (I remember the olden days of wanting to react to something in the news, and then making phone calls or sending letters—!!!, yes, real letters in the mail on paper !!!—to the handful of gatekeepers who ran op-ed pages, hoping you could get their interest.) You had to attract the attention of TV or radio reporters, since only they could get you on the air. If you had a longer story to tell, you had to convince a publishing house to put out your book. Short of going door-to-door with flyers, there was no way to avoid the middleman in this industry. And the people who served as middlemen—the publishers, the broadcasters—were buttressed by the very expensive printing and transmitting equipment they controlled.
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