I received a delightful email from former Fairfax Fashion Editor Janice Breen Burns yesterday, telling me that her new fashion commentary website Voxfrock is now up and running. I've long been a fan of Jan's writing and perspective, but I'm very much looking forward to reading her work now that she is able to express it more freely than she might have otherwise on someone else's masthead.
One of the great perks of self publishing is exactly that - you're your own publisher, you're not accountable to anyone else. Your own opinion can flourish, without being edited by the agendas of others. Now don't get me wrong, this is fraught with issues too (hello, twitter trolls), but it does allow us, the people, a great deal more say.
Much has been made of the move away from traditional print publications to online, particularly in Jan's sphere of fashion. I see this new style of independance as being increasingly critical in a media landscape full of vested interests and obscured corporate agendas. Call me crazy, but I can't help feel that transparent and honest communications on issues as they relate to PEOPLE rather than CORPORATIONS is an important part of a democractic system and critical to the way our society operates.
Yesterday also marked the final time Jan's former employer The Age will distribute their print publication in its extended format, giving way to the bulk of content being delivered online, supplemented by a smaller midweek print run. The end of an era for many, including a number of staff.
As incomprehensible as it may seem for the likes of The Age (or fashion equivalent Vogue) to no longer hold such strong influence, there will likely be a time in the future where print publications simply don't exist. The balance of influence has already shifted percetibly. Small, agile publications (bloggers, tweeters, independent online platforms) are fast gaining ground on their larger, burocratic cousins and threatening to overrun things.
Case in point: i don't watch the news. I don't read the papers (except Saturday's Age, despite the fact it isn't as good as it once was). I subscribe to a selection of niche, mostly independent print publications. I read a great deal of online content - from large and small publishers and persons of interest. My opinions are not being formed by the publications folks once relied on for their connection with the world at large. I publish my own content on several different channels including this one.
Does this mean that I, as a self publisher, should be held to the same ethical standards as these larger outlets (once were)? That means transparency, honesty, balanced opinion, critical thinking, full disclosure. To me, the answer is yes.
This gives me a great deal more responsibility - to read widely, to think carefully and to navigate my way purposefully through the maze of content available to me. It means I need to be much more active as a consumer and creator of content. It means investigating, forming my own opinions - independent of opinions of those I'm reading - and thinking critically.
The age of passive consumption has passed - of media and everything else. I hope others will take this opportunity become more active in the way they (and others) view their world, the information they consume and share, and the way they participate in the society they inhabit.
Are you a self publisher or an active media consumer? Do you take this seriously? Or should we forget about that and just keep babbling?