We are all media, now

Published 9:36 am Monday, September 19, 2016

Chances are, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last month, you’ve seen the video clip of Hillary Clinton appearing to collapse Sunday morning before staff members helped her into her van.

The incident took place in New York City near the Sept. 11 Memorial, after Clinton reportedly became woozy while suffering a bout of pneumonia. That is the campaign’s stance, although many in the country doubt its veracity.

Regardless, the debate over Clinton’s health may have never even occurred, had it not been for 50-year-old Czech immigrant Zdenek Gazda.

You may not know Gazda’s name, but you have been watching his work for the last few days — he is the only person who captured Clinton’s collapse on camera. Gazda is not a journalist, and not a member of the mass media. He was simply a citizen who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Ironically, it is believed that he is even a Hillary Clinton supporter.

I can think of no greater example of how much elections (and the news as a whole) have changed. Imagine 30 years ago, before the age of ubiquitous smartphones with cameras. The odds are very likely that Clinton’s health scare would have never gotten out publicly.

If you followed the recent Commander-in-Chief Forum on Twitter or similar social media, then you would have seen hundreds of “citizen journalists” instantly fact-check untrue or misleading statements by Clinton and Trump. Every campaign event and political speech is now covered not only by the members of the mainstream media, but also anyone who attends the event and has a smartphone, Twitter account or Facebook page. In fact, a recent Trump campaign event in New Hampshire went on as scheduled even though the press plane was delayed at an airport. The implied message from Trump’s people was loud and clear: “We don’t need you anymore, media.”

I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Established media still has proofreaders, fact checkers, and credibility that average citizens don’t usually have. But one thing is definitely true — the mainstream media is no longer the only game in town.

Justin Schuver is the publisher and editor of The Daily News. You can email him at justin.schuver@bogalusadailynews.com or call him at 985-732-2565, ext. 305.