We are witnessing the end of Old Media as we know it.
This will be the last presidential election cycle in which Old Media dominate and more of them sense it than will admit it.
Old Media's fall will be traced back to the birth of two powerful phenomena: conservative talk radio and the internet.
The first was spearheaded by Rush Limbaugh (there is no one more deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom). For his first couple of years, he was essentially a lone voice in the wilderness, but soon his success spawned hundreds of national, regional, and local talk shows. And thus, an entire industry (AM Radio) was plucked from the jaws of death.
How did Mr. Limbaugh do that? He covered news that Old Media smothered. He offered startingly fresh commentary. He exposed the duplicity of network anchors and newspaper editors. And he said out loud what many Americans had been thinking for years. The rest, as they say, is history.
The second phenomenon, the internet, connected us as never before. The early days saw electronic bulletin boards, electronic mail and internet relay chat -- the foundations for an information super highway (just ask algore). The growth of the internet was spurred by the microchip which made it possible for each of us to own a home computer; by easy-to-use Operating Systems such as MacIntosh and Windows; and by ever-increasing bandwidth.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) gave us the World Wide Web and the opportunity for each one of us to be desktop publishers to the world. Old Media staked out homes on the web, but now they had the beginnings of true competition.
That competition began to mature with the advent of Web Logs or Blogs.
The Blogosphere is Old Media's worst nightmare. Bloggers leave no stone unturned, no story untold. The Blogosphere is putting Old Media to shame and, ultimately, out to pasture. Bloggers were tearing into the compelling story of the Swift Boat Veterans 10 days before anyone in Old Media would touch it. In fact, the power of the Blogosphere forced Old Media's hand.
When Old Media knew they could no longer smother the story, they did what comes natural for them: they slanted the story and slandered and libeled the Swifties. But it was too late. The cat was out of the bag ... thanks to bloggers.
Hugh Hewitt, InstaPundit's Glenn Reynolds, and the guys over at Powerline, to name just a few, demonstrate more journalistic integrity in the time it takes to hit a few keystrokes than do the Old Media in an entire news cycle.
They are the leaders of New Media -- one in which we all may and can actively participate.
And that last point is causing much handwringing at Old Media, not unlike the kind that took place aboard the Titanic.