A recent 12-country study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found a near ten percent increase in the use of mobile devices to access news. Additionally the report found a 42% increase in referrals to news sources from Facebook, with Apple and Google also gaining popularity as news sources. More people, especially younger people, are getting their news from the internet rather than from physical newspapers, television or radio. This is a trend that is only likely to continue and one we should welcome.
While there are many reasons to be critical of corporations like Apple, Facebook and Google, they give those seeking information options. At no time in history has so much information been at our fingertips. The major newspapers and television networks have an internet presence, as do countless smaller outlets, which hail from around the world and across the ideological spectrum and focus on numerous areas of specialization. Not only does this allow the viewer to see how several outlets report stories, but they can seek out unique perspectives such as those of: libertarians, anarchists, atheists, anti-establishment liberals and old right conservatives. That is to say, one can discover alternative viewpoints far removed from the establishment-friendly, advertisement-funded mainstream media — which is overly reliant on information provided by government, big business and status quo-friendly think tanks. This must remain so, as we fight state and corporate media attempts to stifle alternative sources.
Rather than having a handful of sources owned by the elite, we have infinite options to choose from. While it is true that much of internet content is rubbish, much of it is also greatly informative and highly reliable. This is where platforms like Facebook, or Twitter come in. As one user states “when someone in my feed who has built a good reputation for solid recommendations puts up a story, I almost always click on it and rarely regret it.” Indeed a small amount of searching in one’s areas of interest allows one to discern reliable sources from poor ones. Additionally sites like Reddit sort material based on its popularity among people with shared areas of interest. What’s great is how this levels the playing field as anyone with a keyboard, microphone or camera can compete with their high profile counterparts on their own terms.
Thus we have centralized, establishment-controlled newspapers and televisions competing against a free market of free-flowing information that the younger generations are increasingly better at navigating. Best of all, the internet is largely anarchistic. It is not controlled by a single government or corporation, and their are no arbitrary rules restricting the types of voluntary interactions one can have on it. When states try to stop the free flow of information, as was the case with The Pirate Bay earlier this year, new providers take their place.
If a new generation is finding the old media unreliable, propagandistic and too closely tied to government and big business, I welcome this development. The alternative of a participatory, anarchistic market of endless free flowing information is truly liberating. It is easier to be well informed now than has been in any point in history, hopefully more people will take advantage of the opportunity. If only we could apply the liberatory potential of an anarchistic social order to the rest of our lives.
James C. Wilson is a blogger and activist anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, feminist and pro-labor leanings. After exploring a wide range of ideologies he found individualist anarchism to be the philosophy that best combines his dislike of coercive authority with concern for the well being of marginalized people, and my desire to see a more prosperous world.