Opinion » Letter From The Editor

Letter from the Editor

In the information age, everybody's a publisher.

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Every January, as the old year turns to new, those of us in the media are seemingly compelled to publish summations of the year just past, i.e., the most significant news events, the best music, film, books; a listing of celebrities and historical figures who died; trends and internet memes that shaped and defined the year. The Flyer is no exception. Our issue of December 27th did just that and in fine fashion. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better retrospective of local music, food, film, news, art, weird stuff — you name it.

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But we've reached an era where almost all of us are publishers of some sort, whether it's through Facebook, blogs, Twitter, or just via our smartphones. Our lives are chronicled daily, and the resulting photos, updates, posts, "statuses," etc. are helpfully updated and filed chronologically for us by our machines. Facebook even created a "year in review" feature for its users, with the helpful and ego-boosting tagline: "Look back at your 20 biggest moments from the past year."

Wow, we're important!

The information age has been an equalizer in many ways. I was reading this week how the sales profession has been changed. In the not-so-distant past, you would, for example, go to a car dealer and negotiate from an "information-deficient" position, i.e., the salesman knew more about what he was selling than you did. No more. Smart car buyers are equipped with the knowledge of what the base price is for every make and model — and what every other dealer in town has in stock. The age of the hustle is dying. The age of the transparent transaction is here.

But the instant nature of our news and interactions also contains pitfalls. Consider the flood of false information about the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings that made it into the mass media in the early hours of that tragedy. We were given the wrong name for the shooter, a false report that the shooter's mother was a teacher at the school, and several other details that proved incorrect as the facts emerged.

It's the job of the media to get the story right before disseminating it to the public. In an era where information is everywhere and redistributed freely — and often without discerning whether or not it is true — we at the Flyer will continue to try be a source of news and content you can trust.

That said, let me add, Happy New Year! It's 2013, y'all.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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