The journalists and media organizations of the past century often played the role of the gatekeeper. They decided which stories were fit to be told and which were not. The role of the public was limited to identifying media sources we entrusted to filter through infinite perspectives and stories for us, select those most relevant, and interpret those stories through a perspective we’d welcome.
In the old days of the media world, there was a saying that “Content is King and Distribution is Queen,” meaning that the control of the media (and thus, public awareness) lies first in the hands of those who create content, and second in the hands of those who control distribution. Its no secret that this role is shifting. As media technology gets more and more ubiquitous, content creation is democratizing. Similarly, with a free and open Internet, it’s getting harder and harder to control distribution. The web enables us to filter through the abyss and select stories easier than ever before. Hundreds of our friends play that gatekeeper role for us via Facebook and Twitter, with Google and others watching our tastes and serving up information catered to each of us. The smart media companies are either leading this change, or getting out of the way and helping the inevitable happen sooner.
OMF is not here to be a better gatekeeper: We’re here to help tear down the gates, and 2011 was a banner year for us in that regard. We launched a new learning lab with over a dozen new training programs, working with partners like the Denver Public Library, Flobots.org, Emily Griffith and KGNU. We upgraded our Open Media Project software, which allows community producers and viewers to determine scheduling for community media operations at Denver Open Media and partner stations across the country. We celebrated our 5th year of Denver Open Media with awards for the top voted content from over 6,000 videos submitted. All steps towards putting the power of the media in the hands of the people.
Our collective awareness is no longer limited to the agenda of corporate media and the advertisers who sustain them. Mass communications steer our awareness and our values and with the gates opening a little wider every day, the opportunity is here for all of us to contribute.