In any profession, particularly one that has existed long enough that no one can remember a time when it didn’t exist, members have a tendency to equate provisional solutions to particular problems with deep truths about the world. This is true of newspapers today and of the media generally. The media industries have suffered first and most from the recent collapse in communications costs. It used to be hard to move words, images, and sounds from creator to consumer, and most media businesses involve expensive and complex management of that pipeline problem, whether running a printing press or a record label. In return for helping overcome these problems, media businesses got to exert considerable control over the media and extract considerable revenues from the public. The commercial viability of most media businesses involves providing those solutions, so preservation of the original problems became an economic imperative. Now, though, the problems of production, reproduction, and distribution are much less serious. As a consequence, control over the media is less completely in the hands of the professionals.
Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (New York & London: Penguin Books, 2008), 59.