Any Opposition MP or MPP or MLA will tell you: if the media aren't there to shine a light on government's misdeeds or misspending, very few people are going to end up knowing about it.
- Warren Kinsella
Kinsella makes a valid point about the world we know. News isn't just information - it's information that gets presented. From Parliament down to service providers and over to everything from accountants to yoga instructors, we outsource the substance of our lives so that we can focus on more specific things more intently.
To a degree - and especially where it comes to big decisions and the news that informs them - we have given agency to others on our behalf.
I've written at length about why this has been necessary; Parliament was created in an age cars and the internet, so we needed someone to carry collective voices to places of decision making. Every day citizens didn't have the tools, or skills, or the time to do investigative journalism. It was someone else's job, just as farming or keeping the trains running or the sidewalks paved was someone else's job.
There's a big change afoot, however, that is revisiting this dynamic.
It's early days, and the future is far from clear, but there's been a whiff of investigative reporting and real-world reportage happening out their in the social Zeitgeist. Even when the media was shut out in Ferguson, we got real-time stories and images via social media. At a recent Civic Tech TO, there's a project that essentially is doing what reporters do - it has recognized that some Orders in Council went missing and is exploring why, and developing mechanisms to flag future such absences for the general public.
Not to say that everyone in the general public will care, much less be interested in engaging directly, but that was the case before, too.
Beyond just reportage, we have civic groups popping up to do things like collect clothes for refugees, source and provide blankets for the homeless and even tackle wicked policy programs. These aren't funded groups with defined roles, so their sustainability is in question, not do they have agency in that someone has given them permission to do what they're doing.
But it's all happening anyway.
The emerging picture isn't clear, but there are definitely big changes in our social dynamic under way.