Media is more than the power to inform; it is the power to influence. In the early days of our nation’s press, media barons would abuse their power to serve personal interest. But thanks to muckraking journalism, voices of truth and descent rose up. Even still, only the newspapers and journalists had the power to be heard. If the common man had something to say, his options were limited.

As media evolved, this still did not change. From newspapers to radio to television, media outlets were still owned by the few and the privileged, and we the people went largely unheard. Yet the world was changing in ways that nobody could predict; technology and the internet provided a new level of interconnectivity, with a limitless ability for distribution. Blogs, cell phone cameras, SMS, RSS feeds; the tools were falling into place. But overall public awareness was still low. Dan Gilmore, author of We the Media, contends that the media blitz and interest surrounding the events of 9-11 was the catalyst that propelled web based media into the forefront of our consciousnesses.

It’s not all good news. When everybody has a voice, those with ulterior motives can make themselves heard. Corporations can play the wolf in sheeps clothing. And so much energy is devoted to celebrity. Still, power has indeed shifted. Anyone with access to the internet and something to say can be heard, and if the message is powerful enough, it can easily be spread to thousands or even millions. While there is still a place for the big networks and big media, there is a new player now; we the people.