The Good Old Days?

I celebrate my birthday in a few days time. Like many people, I often use birthdays as an opportunity to be nostalgic and look back at how things used to be.

It’s interesting to look at how the media landscape has changed during my lifetime. When I was a teenager we had just three TV channels to choose from. There was no i-player, so if you wanted to watch a programme you had to sit down in front of the TV and watch it while it was being broadcast. It meant that I has to arrange my social life around must see TV shows such as I Claudius,  The Sweeney and, of course, Fawlty Towers.

Clearly it’s all very different today, with over 200 channels to choose from and any number of catch up services. TV may have improved in terms of quantity, but I can’t help feeling that it has gone backwards in terms of quality. Am I alone in wondering how anyone could possibly find Mrs Brown’s Boys funny?

Radio also offers a much greater choice today. Back in the 1970s we had just six stations to choose from; the four national BBC stations plus two local stations, one BBC and one commercial. Today, thanks to digital radio and the web, we have a virtually unlimited choice.

In the course of my lifetime print media seem to have gone the opposite way from broadcasting, with the choice of titles available declining at an alarming rate. Two of the magazines which I regularly read during my student days, The Listener and Punch, have long since bitten the dust.

Many of the daily papers of my youth now no longer exist, while those that are still going, such as The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald are now shadows of their former selves.

The big change of course has been the emergence of the internet and the growth of social media.  Most of us now get our news and information from our laptops and mobile phones rather than from newsprint.

We may have a greater choice of media today than we did in my youth, but I wonder if we are really better off as a result.  Or perhaps I am just getting old?



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