Media battered by all that diversity

The restructuring of the world’s media also is affecting electronic outlets.

The impact of media diversity first became apparent with major newspapers scaling back expensive print products and placing more emphasis on their digital offerings. Some erected what are called pay walls.

La Nación in San José did that in the hopes of raising revenue that could not be earned with online advertising.

An analysis of the news

Now lean times are being seen in the broadcast media. Canal 9 in Santa Ana just laid off 120 staffers and said that it would just air canned material. That irked some lawmakers who noted that there is a law that requires radio and television stations to air at least 30 percent of its programming generated in Costa Rica. But the lawmakers also found that the fine for not doing so is just 3,000 colons, a bit less than $6.

Canal 9 and the other broadcasters are in competition with forces that did not exist just a few years ago. YouTube, iTunes and a litany of other online media providers are available wherever there is Internet, and the millions of pads and tablets can easily access them.

The broadcasters, who are spending top dollar to buy electricity to put their signal in the air are at a disadvantage.

But there is an even more troubling aspect to the great diversity in the media. Many persons are being disconnected from the flow of professional news.

Pew Research reported in July that more and more Americans are getting their news from Twitter and Facebook. And the younger set are the most likely to be doing this.

Pew also reported that 61 percent of the so-called Millennials report getting political news on Facebook. Only 37 percent of this age group that became adults around the turn of the century watch political news on television in a given week, Pew found. Even fewer read serious newspapers or magazines even online.

These facts have caused even those serious outlet to dumb down their product in an effort to reach younger readers and viewers.

Neil Postman warned about how the public addition to amusement could cause an overall lethargy that could lead to unintentional surrender of basic rights. His 1985 book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” pretty well summarized a situation that exists today.

Even television commentators are noting that the U.S. presidential campaigns are being smothered in personalities and showbiz that are basically without political substance.

From a commercial standpoint, merchants are finding fewer and fewer outlets where they can reach the customers they need at a reasonable cost. Email has pretty much imploded due to excessive spam and viruses.

Canal 9, which has been owned by Grupo As Media S.A., has a history that stretched back to 1962 when it was one of only two television stations in the country.  As Media acquired it in 2008.

The television channel was the only major station to experiment with news in English. But the station management declined to advertise the evening show, and many expats did not know of it.

Ironically advertising seems to be at the root of the station’s financial problems. Just as it declined to advertise its offering, station managers said the company had a hard time in obtaining paid advertising.

The situation will only grow worse as advertisers experiment with the various social media networks, and the public has a large selection of free and amusing offerings.


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