The day the print died
In the coming year, the printed journalist will continue writing his final will and testament; the Internet will report a demonstration of journalists whose pay was cut.
1. The decline of the printed press is part and parcel of the decline of authority.
2. Authority is in decline in the most simple terms. The almighty father shaves his chest hair. The mother is daughter's best friend (they even discuss sex every now and then). The schoolteacher, who until some years ago would expel misbehaving children from class with blood-curdling yells, now believes there's no such thing as a bad child, only a child who is having a bad time (or suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Authority is disintegrating. The princess is photographed bare-breasted, the president is doing time, the judge is on the lam in Peru, the prime minister is cashing in whenever possible, the general expropriates state land for his mansion, the mayor is corrupt, the professor sexually abuses his students, the TV star hires hoodlums to maul people he doesn't like and then commits suicide.
3. It takes time for the masses to use their power, since it's difficult to unite all individuals in one coherent shape, and it's difficult to form a generic, simple-to-use weapon that could be used by so many people. But when the form is finally figured out and the weapon is ready, the long-term processes reach their climax swiftly and cruelly. The first to pay the price are those who prevented and stalled the realization of the masses' power - the authorities.
4. The weapon invented to crush authority is called "measurement": the possibility to measure at each second the authority in terms of pleasure/pain (like/dislike ).
5. The shattering of authority is always a dual action: It involves pleasure (patricide ), but also lost of meaning/faith, since authority - parents, teachers, gods - are the scale by which men measure themselves: their power, their morals, their insignificance. The pleasure is borne of liberation, the pain - of loneliness.
6. Friedrich Nietzsche announced the death of god toward the end of the 19th century. Nietzsche's god wasn't an object of infinite power, but rather the cultural internalization of a Christian-religious moral code. Nietzsche wondered which values would replace the religious values that would disappear with god's disappearance. He estimated that god's death would first lead to a nihilistic stage, but that later on one could disengage from the moral degeneration associated with the belief in god, and consolidate a new set of moral values more tolerant of the variety of human beings and ways of life.
The gap Nietzsche envisioned was filled by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg et al. Nietzsche probably couldn't imagine that it wouldn't be new content, but rather new forms - TV, computers, iPhones, iPads, which allow incessant communication between millions of human beings - that would make the old forms of authority irrelevant.
7. As a matter of fact, human beings identified in technology the possibility of being their own scale of measurement. Man constructed a detour system of quasi-authority, which is actually reflections of his tastes and needs, and the manner in which he wishes to see himself. The media - reflecting human beings and society - thus became a strategic area which must be forcefully and swiftly taken over. This was done by measurement: Whoever enables a positive reflection of society and its individuals (in other words, causing pleasure to the viewer ), would gain popularity (money ), and survive as a source of authority; but whoever reflects negatively - or even worse, in a boring, (therefore meaningless ) manner - will be fiercely condemned and won't survive as a source of authority.
8. The process can be symbolically described like this: Once upon a time there was one channel that separated good from evil (god ); then humans had enough of the stringent good and evil decreed upon them; they established another channel based on a new principle: good is what many people want, bad is what many people don't want. The new channel annihilated the old channel and became the new authority. In other words, the new authority is what many people wish to see/hear/feel. The new authority is the people themselves.
9. From this point on, any authoritative phenomenon - on TV, on the radio, on the web, or on the streets - was inflated, deflated or extinguished by measurement, according to the public need it fulfilled or failed to fulfill. Thus new authorities were established based on their capability of causing pleasure or insulting the audience - depending on the relationship between sadism and masochism in each and every local culture.
10. Terminology aside, without demand, what was left was mainly "unattractive" authorities - those hard to understand, unflattering, not extreme, independent. This led to a fading of nuances, these transparent delicate lines of meaning which constructed life behind the scenes, and now could no longer reverberate.
11. The printed journalist is becoming extinct since he contradicts the trend: He remained an immeasurable authority. He describes and takes a stand concerning reality (as an authority ), and is part of a complex tapestry that cannot be individually measured (a newspaper ).
The invention of the Internet hastened the extinction of the printed journalist, since is enabled measurement of new reality-describers such as posts, blogs and tweets, and even more so - enabled them to be immediately manipulated. Clicking became the official approval of the new reality described - the more people clicked on the page, the more the reality described was accepted as authoritative.
The printed journalist is now compelled to post his thoughts on the Internet, so that he can be measured every instant. Still, the printed journalist finds that move to be difficult, since that measurement is the very reason he became a printed journalist: The will to write his views on paper is the will to escape judgment by the 'masses' (and be judged only by 'the editor,' an old-fashioned authority ).
In fact, the contradiction between a newspaper and the Internet has nothing to do with the platform - page or screen - and isn't a question of habits. It's a contradiction that has to do with the journalist's wish not to be judged every second - a form of castration - not to be dependent on the masses, which originally made him flee to the printed page. The journalist believes that the most important aspect of his job - the aspect that actually defines it - is independence: the power to be true to one's eyes, ears and free thoughts.
12. In the coming year, the printed journalist will continue writing his final will and testament; the Internet will report a demonstration of journalists whose pay was cut. One comment will sum it all up: "Endless joy, serves the Nazi media right."