Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you're winning

One of the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent blogger is that you can take the quixotic side in as many debates as you want. The good side of this is that, if you find a rich vein of conventional stupidity, it's relatively easy to make valid yet original points and you will never go wanting for a flawed argument to dismantle. The bad side is that this kind of fight can wear you down. Every day you going looking for something stupid to write about and every day you find it. After a while a sense of futility will start to creep up on you.

Under those circumstances, it's easy to miss signs of progress. For example, if you were following the free TV story five years ago, you couldn't help noticing what almost amounted to a press blackout on the subject. Even in stories advising consumers on options to pay-TV, over-the-air television somehow went unmentioned. This was true in the stories themselves. The comment sections invariably had readers pointing out they got their TV through an antenna and were getting more channels in higher definition than they would have gotten from basic cable. The result was a strange situation where the comments were more informative than the articles.

There is still a lot of misinformation about over-the-air television out there, but it is now more or less standard for stories about consumer TV options to have a paragraph like this:
For sports, news and syndicated shows, an indoor HD antenna is a great choice. It will bring you high-definition over-the-air broadcasts from local networks for less than the cost of one month of cable. And you can keep it for years.
What explains the shift? No doubt the showdown between Viacom and Time Warner played a role but cracks were appearing even before then. It could have been word of mouth or information seeping up from the comment section or even journalistic curiosity. Whatever the cause, it's still a sign of progress.

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