Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The McDonaldization of Media

Old titles were being bought and sold in the past week at the speed of light. The Washington Post, Boston Globe and Newsweek all changed hands in an eyeblink.

Print journalism is morphing into the plaything of, respectively, the owners of  Amazon, the Boston Red Sox baseball team and an international digital corporation.

The direction has been clear for decades. News is instantaneous now on the Web and 24/7 cable, and waiting for context and coherence until the next day or weekend does not appeal to impatient new generations anxious to tweet or text their reactions.

The President explains his closure of embassies under Middle East terror threats to Jay Leno, with the certainty that Americans will learn what he has to say within minutes.

In the past century, the social critic Lewis Mumford observed that journalism was moving ever faster and creating “deprivation by surfeit.”

Like other assembly-line industries that concentrate on speed and productivity, the manufacture of news has ignored “the need for evaluation, correction, selection and social assimilation.”

Hand-made objects are a thing of the past. We get news like fast food and with just about the same amounts of nutrition and flavor.

As we congratulate ourselves for being so quickly well-informed, do we ask, “Of what?”

As old media names slide toward quaintness and irrelevance, we might give a passing thought, or tweet, to whether or not we will miss what they used to bring us.

Update: All this old-media shuffling prompts Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company to announce emphatically that the Times itself will remain in the hands of his family into “our global and digital future.”

In an interview, he slaps his palm on a table to emphasize that the paper is “Not. For. Sale.”

Not. Yet. 

1 comment:

Chicano2nd2 said...

And the problem exacerbates other areas of this society as that information reaches millions who are not taught the art of critical thought.