I was born three years before the Internet (which turned 40 a few weeks ago), and raised entirely on newspapers and radio in a country where broadcast television didn’t arrive until I was 13.
From the time I could read and write, I always wanted to be a media publisher. In that pre-history of the Personal Computer and Internet, my choices were pretty limited: I published a hand-written household newspaper and was its editor, reporter, printer and distributor all rolled into one. But I was obsessive in my work even then, and the newspaper lasted a couple of years in which over two dozen issues were released (all of them now mercifully lost).
My school teacher parents were my first patrons, supplying me with plenty of paper, pencils and ink. But there must have times when they rather wished that I didn’t indulge in my own brand of independent journalism. I loved to criticise and lampoon the ‘management’ in my editorials — even as a kid, I was already critical of the establishment!
Fortunately for me, the ‘management’ left me alone and to my own devices, but most independent editors in history haven’t been so lucky. As the American journalist A.J. Leibling (1904 -1963) once said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” In his time, this was perfectly true.
There was a time, until recently, when press barons and media moguls led, and the rest of society followed. In our topsy-turvy times, however, the reverse is increasingly true.
In theory, at least, anyone can be a global broadcaster and publisher in less than two hours using free tools that can be downloaded and activated in minutes.
My British media activist friend David Brewer has just published an online guide on how to become a publisher or broadcaster in 100 minutes. (Okay, the non-geeks among us might need a bit longer than that, but still, you can be in business in just a few hours.)
David Brewer’s journalistic and managerial experience spans newspapers, radio, television, and online, and he now runs Media Ideas International Ltd, a media strategy consultancy with clients in Europe, the Balkans, the CIS, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Central America.
David has worked with what I like to call the A-B-C of global broadcasting. He was the launch managing editor of BBC News Online in 1997, and moved to CNN, as managing editor, to set up CNN.com Europe, Middle East and Africa and CNNArabic.com. He was an editorial consultant for the launch of Al Jazeera English in 2006 and continues to work with Al Jazeera English as a new media consultant.
In his spare time, he runs Media Helping Media , a network and online resource to support media in areas where freedom of expression is under threat.