A few nights ago I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to a talk by Morgan Spurlock - famed documentarian and filmmaker- whose credits include "Super Size Me", "30 Days (TV)" and "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?".
The main component of the night was film and the first amendment. Did you know Spurlock has 24 lawyers working for him? For freedom of speech, that's a bitch. He and a few others talked about how the internet is making it very hard for free speech to be enacted, because it is by nature spreading the information around the world - and therefore into different jurisdictions who don't have the same freedoms of speech and press that we do.
This was all very interesting, but at some point during the night it was mentioned the idea of how "free" the free press really is.
To print a paper, you need the ink, you need the paper, you need the distribution and you need the publicity. This is all not free. I realize this seems obvious, but I'm getting to the point soon.
So in reality, the physical press is an expensive business, which is being ran by a few instead of the many, and this is mainly because of financial issues.
So where has the free press migrated to? The internet.
With people like me and you numbering in the millions exercising our freedoms of speech, the majority of the independent free press has migrated towards the internet.
It is easier for people to read, easier for people to post, and all around easier to get your message out there.
But is it really free?
Everytime time I publish, and everytime you read, we are giving money to large corporations.
It cost money to get on the internet, remember? Internet is not free; it is not a commidty. We are paying to be able to absorb "free" information.
Everytime we log on the internet, we are being bombarded by advertisements, and with each site we visit we are, as the moderator of this event (I forget his name, but he was brilliant) said, "Making CEO's smile."
But is this all that bad?
You have to play by the rules to win the game.
Although we are making these "CEO's smile", we are also making us smile. Information is a commodity and we are its consumers.
But it's not the worst thing to be consuming, is it?
One day, maybe in the future Internet will be free to all, but it will still be riddled with business. But this is life, and we have to learn to live with and embrace it. Spurlock's show plays on a Murdock network, but he's still saying what he wants to say and getting his word out there.
So maybe the free press really isn't as "free" as we'd like; but at least we can still operate inside of it, and maybe if we play by their rules, beat it.