Remember when only certain people had a platform to be seen and heard?

It was a weekend of mass shootings in the U.S. By now you’ve heard about the tragedies across that country. You know what follows: the gun control debate.

This is going to seem like an odd transition but stick with me.

Recently, I chatted with Melissa Rivers for a radio segment about her new book.

During our conversation, albeit unrelated to the book, we noted how red carpets aren’t fun anymore because people are uptight and you can’t joke around. She and her iconic mom, Joan Rivers, were legends on Hollywood red carpets, hitting the scene long before I did in 2009.

Part of our chat focused on social media and “viral moments” and the whole “cancel culture” thing. In short: Many traditional broadcasters don’t want to cover these events anymore because one misstep gets blown up and scandalized.

My insight was that once red carpets were open to bloggers and YouTubers the whole vibe changed. The focus wasn’t the same. It was about the “reporter” having his or her moment and getting selfies with stars. I mentioned that would never have happened back in the day and Melissa replied, “oh god no.”

The conversation made me think, “Wasn’t it great when only certain people had a platform to be seen and heard?”

Don’t get me wrong, my whole “SpeakFree with JB” concept that I created 20 years ago is all about people expressing themselves. But on that platform, I am the filter, I am the censor, I am the responsible decision maker. I use editorial judgement because, well, that’s what my training and experience is.

The danger in everybody having the ability to broadcast to the world is what we now see playing out: horrific live streams as viewers watch in terror.

Years ago, there was a buffer with content before it went out to an audience. You had producers or editors or censors or what was called a Standards and Practices department. There were rules about what could be seen and heard over the airwaves. There was some level of accountability.

Now, it’s a free for all thanks to social media.

When I signed off one of my syndicated radio shows after 15 years last June it was partly because everybody is a broadcaster nowadays. The craft has been bastardized. There’s no talent or skill required anymore.

Audiences have been dumbed down thanks to social media. They don’t appreciate a trained professional at the mic. They want to see someone on YouTube with “jump cuts” every three seconds because they can’t string together two sentences without it requiring massive editing.

So, what are people doing with their own broadcast platforms? They’re live streaming their shooting rampage. It’s bad enough they’re plotting and scheming to be terrorists but the fact they think the world wants to see such disgusting behaviour is sickening, though not surprising anymore.

It makes you wonder if the things would get better if people didn’t have the ability to reach large audiences with the press of a button.

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