It is often argued that there is no longer any such thing as “mass media”. After all, it has been decades since we all watched the same programming broadcast by a mere three television networks. Matt examines that dynamic in greater detail in his post this week. Today, we consume our news and entertainment programming from hundreds (if not thousands) of different media platforms – all vying for our attention. In this way, formatically, we are, quite often, literally and figuratively, segregated. Until a crisis hits – and we once again become a community of one.
We saw it in the aftermath of tragic events this past week in Boston. Who wasn’t glued to TV or radio for continuing coverage as well as up-to-the-minute print and broadcast outlet updates online – each of us seeking information and a way to somehow make sense of it all. As the manhunt for the bombing suspects heated up on Friday, many office phones were silent across the country with individuals web streaming coverage from their desks and others eschewing cell phone calls by car in favor of the latest radio reports.
A wise man once said that how we handle adversity can define us. It is at times like these that the media – mass media such as the major networks and news outlets – are at their finest. Oft maligned for being sensational, political or worse, unnecessary, it is they who we turn to for accurate information and keen perspective. More often than not, they get it right.
It is particularly heartening to think that we all worked together, perhaps like never before, toward delivering justice. As the FBI made public the pictures of the terrorist brothers, they knew that the media would beam their images to the world and that, further, we would then post and share and tweet them even further; a grass tops and grass roots collaboration. It was two-way “mass” communication both basic and complex and truly at its finest.