Taking a step back today | RecordCourier.com

Taking a step back today

Community newspapers are the canary in a coalmine when it comes to a business community’s prosperity. No matter how you feel about the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, it has had a significant impact on our advertisers.

It’s not news that The R-C is feeling that impact, as well.

Next week I go on furlough in an effort to help keep The R-C afloat and will be unavailable.

Much as I hate to give up my spot in this struggle, I believe The R-C has important work yet to do, and that taking a week away now will help ensure that work goes on in the future.

Thanks so much for understanding that this publication is as dear to me as it is to you. I’ll be back on the ramparts on April 20.

In the meantime, please patronize the folks who support The Record-Courier.

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A recent R-C letter writer pointed out that 90 percent of the media is owned by just five companies. That proposal was originally floated in a 1992 book by former Washington Post editor and Berkeley professor Ben Bagdikian who said 90 percent of media is owned by 50 corporations as of 1982. Bagidkian, who was a veteran of Watergate, revised that figure down to five in 2004 and it’s been canon ever since.

Bagidikian’s list didn’t include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Netflix, Amazon, or Apple, all of whom have entered the fray since the book’s last revision. Admittedly, ownership of these outfits has been swirling around for the last 16 years.

It also didn’t take into account the explosion of user-generated content those platforms allowed. Bagidikian was concerned about the concentration of media gatekeepers into the hands of just a few people.

But Facebook has nearly 2.5 billion users, representing a third of the world’s entire population, who can pretty much post and share whatever they want whenever they want. Twitter features a paltry 330 million active users, which is coincidentally is very nearly the same number of people of the United States.

My point is not to debunk or even update Bagidikian’s claim, but to recognize that things have changed significantly in the media landscape in the last 16 years. Though I will point out that for much of the world, the media is operated by the government, which I don’t think is even vaguely better.

Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at khildebrand@recordcourier.com or 775-782-5121, ext. 21