As I was discussing the Nick Cannon story last night with Dovid Efune of the Algemeiner, I complained that the mainstream media was ignoring the story of a very famous person publicly spreading hate. (Starts at about 18:00)
I take this personally. On Saturday night, Judean People’s Front tweeted the details of the offensive video, and I put together a post about it on Sunday morning. My intent was to get the story trending in major media – it is clearly newsworthy. I pushed the story to the major news media.
And they ignored it.
Sunday afternoon Jewish Insider and the Jerusalem Post ran with the story, and other Jewish and Israeli media followed. But for two more days, every wire service, major newspaper and magazine and TV network remained silent even as social media attention kept increasing.
Efune told me that sometimes they take their time, but not to be upset – because before citizen journalism, stories like these would never get out at all. The news was completely controlled by the major media and they were the gatekeepers of what is and isn’t news. News bloggers like me are critical components of the news cycle nowadays.
Minutes after our conversation came the news that Viacom/CBS had fired Cannon. This is before major media had covered the story at all. The decision was not made because of national attention.
The entire cycle of the story – the outrageous antisemitism, people getting upset, other people defending Cannon’s racism, Cannon’s refusal to apologize, Viacom/CBS terminating their relationship with Cannon – happened over the course of 60 hours while consumers of traditional media missed it all.
What should have been a media-driven story ended up happening and partially resolving without the media.
Consumers of news media should be upset. They pay money to get the news, and the news they will read today (when US newspapers and wire services finally cover it) will be about a story that played out over two and a half days without a single mention. Whether they purposefully wanted to downplay or bury the story, as I suspect, is not so relevant any more – because news bloggers like me now have the power to make a story too big for them to ignore. (Sometimes. There are plenty of stories I break that do not get any traction.)
Either way, this Cannon story shows that the days that the traditional news media calls the shots are over. Their influence is still huge, of course, and people will rely on them as their major or only news source for years to come. But they can no longer be the gatekeepers, and their attempts to minimize a story like this one ends up making them look like they are out of touch – or worse, pushing an agenda of denying their readers stories that they think are better left unreported.