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Ed Driscoll

The MSM: Sold Without Warranty

December 30th, 2009 - 12:22 pm

Back in 1993, the late Michael Crichton famously predicted the demise of the mass media. Last year, in the months before Crichton unexpectedly passed away, Jack Shafer wrote in Slate:

In 1993, novelist Michael Crichton riled the news business with a Wired magazine essay titled “Mediasaurus,” in which he prophesied the death of the mass media -– specifically the New York Times and the commercial networks. “Vanished, without a trace,” he wrote.

The mediasaurs had about a decade to live, he wrote, before technological advances — “artificial intelligence agents roaming the databases, downloading stuff I am interested in, and assembling for me a front page”–swept them under. Shedding no tears, Crichton wrote that the shoddy mass media deserved its deadly fate.

“[T]he American media produce a product of very poor quality,” he lectured. “Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it’s sold without warranty. It’s flashy but it’s basically junk.”

And of course, the back to back election “coverage” last year, followed by CNN and MSNBC’s unceasing attacks on the populist Tea Partiers, and thus, the message of limited government and fiscal responsibility they’re preaching have driven that home. Victor Davis Hanson called it at the end of last year: “Sometime in 2008, journalism as we knew it died, and advocacy media took its place.”

As a commenter perceptively remarked at Hot Air yesterday, regarding CNN’s ratings woes:

CNN is the new Kodak. The problem with having a monopoly, or at least a virtual monopoly, is that once things change and there is competititon, the company that formerly didn’t have to worry about competition often has no clue what to do to remain relevant.

In one of my Silicon Graffiti videos last year, building on Shafer’s article about Crichton’s prediction, I explored some of the technological reasons, even beyond a bias that excludes upwards of half their potential viewers, why the legacy media really are the legacy media.

In the latest edition of PJTV’s Trifecta program, featuring Bill Whittle, Scott “Scrappeface” Ott, and my partner in radio at PJM Political, Steve Green, debate “The Decade In News: How the Internet Has Changed Your Daily Fix.”

(And for those who’ve made us a small part of your daily fix, we thank you!)

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