In chapter four of The Rise of the Blogosphere, Barlow writes,
“At this time, the press certainly was considered an avenue of popular expression separate from the ballot box. That is, it really was considered the ‘voice of the people’ – a notion that would be only metaphorically true once commercialism and professionalism had effectively separated the newspapers from direct popular expression” (43).
It is difficult for me to even imagine a time when the press was centered on feelings, on people’s thoughts and reactions. Today, as Barlow mentioned, our newspapers are only filled with facts. We go to our news to learn about “current events” and statistics, not how these events and statistics are being accepted or rejected by the public. I guess that is what we have blogs for, right? Even though blogs are deemed less professional or not credible sources of news, we are once again given a space where we can express ourselves. We can be open about our government, whether it be local or federal, and we can blend our facts and feelings without it being taboo.
It is not, however, difficult to imagine what this voice may have sounded like: money. The “voice of the people” was definitely that of a wealthy white male. While the idea of everyone contributing their ideas to the paper is an encouraging one, there are multiple demographics whose voices are forcibly muted.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, countless laws were created that effected the lives of millions of slaves. Since they weren’t considered actual people, they had no voice to raise against the disgusting rules implemented against them. They had no press outlet that they could voice their opinions to. They weren’t even allowed to learn to read and write, let alone create a newspaper.
The voices of women and lower class white people, who hadn’t had the resources, were also missing from the conversations.
Is there a “voice of the people” today in 2017? If so, what does it sound like? Personally, I don’t think there is just one solid voice and I don’t think there could ever be one. The internet is full of sound, millions of voices shouting their ideas.
It is a colorful noise and it sounds like hope.