In the revolutions of the previous age, a liberation
hero would emerge and lead the victors of a hard
fought liberation struggle. Thus became Castro,
Kenyatta, Mandela and many other great leaders.
However recent events around the world defy this
established trend.
Hundreds of people begin protests in a city land
mark, they spread their struggle via social media and
the coverage of traditional media and become
thousands. They picket and shout for days and
eventually achieve their goal of creating social or
political change. They then search for a leader
amongst or outside them. This play has been
repeated several times in the last two years, from
Tunisia, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Turkey to Brazil.
A key feature of this social and political uprisings has
been their lack of leadership faces. They seem to be
driven by their social or political zeal rather than by
charismatic leaders making heroic speeches and
dares at the establishment. There are no ring leaders
or subversives to arrest and try, just thousands of
young people shouting in streets and engaging the
authorities. Importantly many of the countries that
have endured these uprisings have been
characterised by strong governments and even more
stringent media laws. The lack of expression in these
countries have driven the people to alternative media
Firstly, because the media laws are structured to
protect the establishment the existing media
becomes less believable, as to stay in business
media houses have to be “compliant”. The people in
a struggle thus find little use for them as sources of
information or places of opinion reference.
Because the media are less credible , then the best
sources of information become the underground
sources or the peer to peer sources. News from a
friend who knows becomes more useful and
believable than news from formal established
sources. As these networks become more credible
they grow in size and efficiency in spreading
important information. Any one who lived through
the 80`s in Kenya will tell you this story backwards. A
breaking strory or analysis was often spread through
photocopies of TIME or NEWSWEEK sold like
contraband in traffic.
While governments expended every energy to
“manage” what media did and said, the people who
read this publications sought newer sources of
information and thus have grown large networks of
people news sources. So what is the lesson here ?
Firstly, governments around the world have all but
given up trying to control the internet as a people
influence tool. Secondly, traditional media vehicles
are experiencing fewer and fewer hours of use as well
as reducing audiences. Thus, any decisions to thwart
the ability of the existing media from being a place of
true and free expression will only accelerate its
decline. Thus you will have a strongly regulated
media that has fewer audiences each year, which I
suppose defeats the original intent.
Suspicious audiences will also gravitate towards
media areas that provide freedom and free
expression. These media also happen to be the
harder to regulate. Thus any action to “ tough”
regulate will rapidly create growth where it is hardest
to regulate. After weighing the pros and cons, maybe
the media will achieve its own equilibrium. It might
even evolve to extinction without government`s

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