Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Vicissitudes of Time

Time Warner is firing magazine people and buying an online ad brokerage for $900 million.

If there is a Media Heaven, Henry R. Luce must be raising hell up there.

In his “American Century,” Luce built an empire by helping readers make sense of what he called "the million little chaoses of raw news."

With today's flood of facts and factoids, there is more need for making sense than ever. But news is not what it used to be.

In naming “You” as Person of the Year, Time rhapsodized about all of us “seizing the reins of the global media” and “beating the pros at their own game” to balance “our diet of predigested news with raw feeds.”

Yes, but...

Unfiltered reporting comes with a lot of sludge. We’re getting far more raw opinions than news or feeds. To replace what Time calls “predigested news,” there is a lot of undigested bile.

What would Luce have made of all this? I agreed with him about little but shared his respect for the value and values of journalism.

“Why,” I once asked, “with your politics do you hire so many Democrats for your magazines?”

“Because,” he said, “most of those Republican bastards can’t write.”

Luce was opinionated, but the man had standards.

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