Saturday, September 22, 2007

Obit for the Overculture

Atlas Mugged: How a Gang of Scrappy, Individual Bloggers Broke the Stranglehold of the Mainstream Media
The twentieth century was the high point of mass culture—or “the overculture” as some call it. Any culture that could produce Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and The Honeymooners can’t be all bad. But eventually, the connection between media elites and their audiences began to fracture. Though apocryphal, the line frequently attributed to Pauline Kael of the New Yorker in 1972 sums up the growing chasm between the overculture—particularly the media—and its audience: “I don’t know how Nixon won. No one I know voted for him.” Just as the Big Three car manufacturers, with a once-monolithic hold on American consumers, seemed unaware that the public wanted a wider choice of cars (until Japan listened and responded), Pauline Kael’s in-crowd of coastal elites has, if anything, become even more clueless and resistant to emerging changes in the culture and dissemination of information. How clueless? In 2004, Jonathan Klein, the former executive vice president of CBS News, described blogging as “a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.” Last May, Time-Warner CEO Richard Parsons was quoted as saying, “The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation. They will lose this war if they go to war. The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion.” Just how did the mainstream media (“MSM”) become so monolithic and unresponsive in the first place? And how is the rise of “Weblogs” helping to establish a new, more “fair and balanced” form of journalism?

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