Rapid Rapport: Media in the Digital Age

Charlie Hebdo, to the average American, may have just seemed like the name of their neighbor’s neighbor until about a month ago. But now, “Charlie Hebdo” is a household name in the debate of censorship versus free speech.

Radical Islamists attacked the satirical magazine at its Paris headquarters, killing eight journalists, along with four others. The reason? The magazine published cartoons that were deemed sacrilegious.

Since, there has been discontent about what the future of censorship will be. According to a Pew Research study, three in ten Americans do not believe that Charlie Hebdo should have published cartoons so offensive to so many people.

This is a debate to keep an eye on for several reasons, the biggest one also being the most obvious: publishers listen to their audiences. Should American public opinion take a drastic shift, we could see the disappearance of some political and religious commentaries.

But, there is a second and more ominous reason to watch out: commercial interest. Because it is so closely bound to audience needs, combining the two could lead to self-censorship of the media itself.

This is only heightened by the digital shift in publishing. Everything is in such a transition, and stakes are higher than ever due to conitnued losses for many publishing companies.

The PWC posed this business model for the new digital world:

  1. First, forging trust: providing customers not just with relevant product and service experiences, but also full control over personal privacy. And embedding trust internally between everyone in the business.
  2. Second, creating the confidence to move with speed and agility: executing on new ideas quickly and decisively.
  3. Third, empowering innovation: recognising past successes, while building on them for the future by innovating in ways unconstrained by that legacy.

The Charlie Hebdo attack very well could sway public opinion, especially when commercial and competitive pressures were listed as top reasons for self censorship in another study.

Do you think that a shift in public opinion of first amendment rights could hinder publications’ abilities to make a resurgence?





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