"In American free speech theory, the press is often described as fulfilling “the watchdog function,” deriving from the notion that the public representatives must be watched over to assure they do the public’s business faithfully. In the context of the Internet, the concern, most clearly articulated by Neil Netanel, has been that in the modern complex societies in which we live, commercial mass media are critical for preserving the watchdog function of the media. Big, sophisticated, well-funded government and corporate market actors have enormous resources at their disposal to act as they please and to avoid scrutiny and democratic control.
Only similarly big, powerful, independently funded media organizations, whose basic market roles are to observe and criticize other large organizations, can match these established elite organizational actors. Individuals and collections of volunteers talking to each other may be nice, but they cannot seriously replace well-funded, economically and politically powerful media."
--from Yochai Benkler's "Wealth of Networks"
In other words, if the Internet succeeds in killing the old media paradigm of big centralized news-gathering/dissemination orgs, the bloggers and yappers creating "user generated media" for free ain't gonna save Democracy's ass.