The Growing Power of the Echo Chamber
Because I am a more visual person, i.e. I learn better when I see and hear, I tend to rely on newscasts from TV and the internet. Newspapers and magazines are my last choices in gathering news. However, while reading Rosen’s article, I was reminded of the helplessness of the press in the light of the growing power of the “echo chamber”. The article said, “But today one of the biggest factors changing our world is the falling cost of like-minded people to locate each other, share information, trade impressions and realize their number.” This resounded loudly in my mind as I remembered the phenomenon of gathering critical mass big enough and powerful enough within less than 24 hours that happened twice in the Philippines. This is what the world knew as “People Power”.
However, here the traditional media of news was not utilized to broadcast the meeting place for this critical mass that swelled to over millions. Newspapers, TV and radio stations were closed down by the ruling government. And in 1986, the first “People Power” that toppled the Marcos government, and 2001, the second “People Power” that toppled the Estrada government, the internet did not have a role in spreading the news. What was used by the citizenry was text messages through mobile phones. These events give credence to what Rosen said above – political journalism has moved away from the traditional media of the press, therefore weakening the effect of the press on world views. Indeed the Net “matters so greatly in political journalism”. In fact, just yesterday, everyone heard about the unfortunate skiing accident in Montreal through the social networking tools. Reading about it in the newspapers this morning was no longer “fresh news” as it was plastered all over the net. In fact, serious newspaper and magazine readers like my parents have found themselves getting the latest about their favorite wines not through the usual wine magazines but through the “Wine library” podcast they regularly listen to.
So given all this happening around us in cyberspace, what do I personally rely on for getting the so-called truth in news? I always believe in validating anything that I see on the net with broadcasts that I have been exposed to – CBS, CNN, Global TV, and the Filipino program, TV Patrol. But honestly, I think Rosen has correctly forecasted the continuing power of the “echo chamber”. And this serves me well as the visual quality of the internet helps me understand and digest the news being presented.