Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Media Futures

Tim Bray has an interesting piece that he summarizes as

            Journalism sucks. But there's hope.

I’ve had similar experiences to Tim’s with technical journalists: in all the times I’ve been interviewed, I’ve rarely felt that the interviewer was capable of expressing what I was saying technically. Usually, I get misquoted, a few times to the point of actually reversing what I meant.

What Tim is talking about is the fact that media companies – like any company – are beholden to those that write the checks, and that ain’t the readers, it’s the advertisers. The upcoming FCC decision to drop the rules on media ownership is clearly going to make this worse, not better. For example, if you think that radio is more diverse now than it was twenty years ago, raise your hand. Anyone?

Here’s a brief FAQ that talks about the proposed FCC rules change.


  1. Hi Craig, it's Shane from MIT. I Heard about your engagement - congratulations! I also have a Developmentor CD in my hand which made me think of you.

    To play devil's advocate, I think that the radio is far more diverse now than 20 years ago, if you include internet radio and XM. I don't have direct experience with XM, but I think it's akin to satellite TV in that I can get stations from around the world in every media market. This looks much better than 20 years ago to me!

  2. First: thanks! Also, I assume this is Shane, brother of Tad? Or a different Shane?

    I agree that if you include Internet and maybe satellite, it's way more diverse. However, Internet stations are disappearing at a rapid rate, and satellite is in its infancy. Also, neither of them helps me much in my car, which is where I think many people listen. Plus, is "oh, there's this other stuff you can use when it's convenient" really provide an excuse for dominance by one or two media companies in the other 90% of the market?

    In any event, if you look at trends, increasing consolidation is the pattern. Right now Satellite is on the upswing, but give it ten years and I guarantee that ClearChannel will own most of the stations, with the same disasterous effect on diversity. Internet may provide some outlet, but until broadband is a reality for more and a clear business model is developed, we need to defend against monopoly.