Once, if you wanted to copy someone’s work, you had to painstakingly rewrite the text, or at least Xerox countless pages from their book. Today Reuters can quote BBC Radio, the BBC can source Sky News, Sky can link to the New York Times and NYT can state that the information originated on the Reuters website.
The information had to come from somewhere, but it would seem that by this constant referral and linking to original articles (which in turn are linking to ‘alternate’ originals), copy is conjured out of thin air. Is it some big journalistic conspiracy or should we look further afield? Maybe Doctor Who, Marty McFly or Bill and Ted are responsible for the appearance of these miracle stories. Surely, time travel has to figure somewhere!
Whatever the reason, it does mean that the consumer is increasingly subject to a standardisation of style, a watering down of words that can only be detrimental to both the reader and the supplier. After all, if the Daily Blurb, Radio Local and the 10 O’clock News are all presenting the same event in a similar fashion, how are we to distinguish one corporate identity from another?
Whilst we may disagree with the political bias of one media channel, or the sensationalism or another, it is these very differences that engage us, promote debate and give us a range of viewpoints and opinions that aid us in forming our own. However, from blogs and tweets, right up to international information suppliers, the mindless sharing of regurgitated copy means that we no longer need to spend any time thinking about the news and instead we can focus on funny videos of cats and publicly criticising our friends’ life choices.
Oh, for the days of photocopying textbooks at the back of the library!