Coming soon to a theater new year… and a museum, apparently…
In 1985, Neil Postman wrote what would become the epitaph for our age: Amusing Ourselves to Death.
In it he postulated that as television and video became more and more ubiquitous, everything, including news and information, would have to become ‘entertaining’, simply to hold our attention.
How right he was.
This morning, The Newseum, an ‘interactive museum of news and journalism’ launched a new exhibit: The Anchorman.
Unlike what you might think, the exhibit is not dedicated to the likes of Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings or Edward R. Murrow. The exhibit, apparently funded by Paramount Films (who are releasing the sequel just in time for the opening), will feature the Adventures of Ron Burgundy, the fictional star of the the film by the same name. (And many thanks to my friend Jack Hitt … Read More »
Last week, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann announced that she would not be running for another term in Congress.
This is fine (really), but instead of holding a press conference, she released a video explaining her rationalization for the move.
The video (I think far too long) was however, very slick and well produced. Very professional.
She then posted it on the Internet.
In doing so, Bachmann was able to bypass the traditional press; no newspapers, no talk shows, no TV news, no journalists.
And… she got her message across, and lots of coverage.
But the message was very carefully controlled.
There used to be a time when politicians (and others) had no choice but to go to ‘the press’. But increasingy, they are starting to realize that they don’t need the press. In fact, it is the press that needs them. But now they are in control.
At the … Read More »
Yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times announced that they were firing their entire photography staff.
Today, they announced that they would start training their reporters to take their own photos using an iPhone.
Media writer Robert Feder surfaced this on Facebook and a lot of discussion ensued.
I am sure I will catch a lot of flack over this (could it be worse than the librarians?), but this is both tragic and inevitable.
Tragic because the professional photographers are both talented and dedicated.
Inevitable because this is where the technology is taking us.
Many years ago (forgive me if I repeat myself here), my very good friend PF Bentley was the White House photographer for Time Magazine.
This is the top of the craft and he deserved it. Books. Magazines. And great stuff.
Once, a few years ago (more than a few now), he invited me to come along on … Read More »
We recently went to the Bill Brandt show at the Museum of Modern Art.
Brandt is a very famous photographer, but in all honesty, when I saw most of his work my reaction was ‘what’s the big deal?’
I don’t want to come off as an intellectual troglodyte, and I have a long running love-affair with photography. I even own a few Salgados. But the Brandt photos were… feh.
OK. But what’s the big deal?
The NY Times review of the show was written with typical ‘art criticism’ praise:
A Camera Ravenous for Emotional Depth
I understand, at least intellectually, the historical import of Brandt, placed in the context of photography per se. But again, the images, for the most part, feh.
Why the feh?
A piece in The Guardian today helped me put it in perspective.
Facebook users alone are posting more than 300 million photographs a day.
Add … Read More »
Last week I wrote a blog about the future of physical libraries in an online and digital world. Can they survive? Is there a place for them?
I also published it in The Huffington Post.
I have been blogging pretty regularly now for five years, but I have rarely seen a response like the one I got from the librarians.
Hundreds of tweets.
And the vitriol. And the invective!
You get the idea.
Hundreds of digital librarians gathered beneath my window with their pitchforks and torches.
Good writing, I think (and this is just my opinion, of course), like good art should challenge you and make you feel uncomfortable. I would (personally) rather be provocative than banal. But that is just me.
That is what I was trying to do. The question was, do libraries have a future in the digital age. And, in case anyone missed … Read More »
We went to see The Great Gatsby last night.
Hated… hated… hated…
Talking about it to Lisa over dinner after the movie (she rather liked it, I think), she asked why I hated it so much.
Aside from all the gratuitous 3D ‘special effects’, my biggest problem was the simplicity of the characters; their two-dimensional characters (ironic in a 3D movie).
I said, “compare it to Breaking Bad. In Breaking Bad the characters are all so complex and engaging.”
Like everyone else, (as far as I can tell), we are watching Breaking Bad in one of those marathon events that Netflix now allows you to do.
We also watched Mad Men in this way.. and The Killing (the Scandinavian version), and The Bridge (likewise), and now House of Cards (BBC version).
Overall, with the exception of House Hunters International, we have pretty much abandoned conventional TV.
In … Read More »
Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one. A. J. Liebling (1904 – 1963)
The world of the media used to be a rich man’s playground.
It cost a lot of money to buy a television network, or a magazine, or a newspaper.
You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in, 60 years. – Charles Foster Kane
But that was the only way to get your message, or your product, in front of millions of people.
Even today, the Koch Brothers seem to be angling to buy a few newspapers for exactly the same purpose.
And if you didn’t have the money that a Charles Foster Kane or a Murdoch or the Koch Brothers had (or have), then you could rent a few pages in the form of ads to get … Read More »
Scott Pelley (CBS) accepts the Fred Friendly Journalism Award…
Fred Friendly was a friend of mine.
He was also my teacher at Columbia University, and later my professional mentor.
He launched my career in television and media.
So it was with a great deal of interest that I watched as Scott Pelley, the anchor at The CBS Evening News accepted the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award.
As Scott gave his speech, it became increasingly clear to me that he had no idea of what it was that Fred stood for… unfortunately.
I have embedded the speech above. You can see it for yourself.
Let me put aside the cheap shots at bad grammar (‘spend some time with she and Fred’ 12:27), and get down to the core of the problem.
Mr. Pelley says ‘our house is on fire’. That would be the ‘house of journalism’ that Fred and … Read More »
Have we met before???
There’s an old joke: The good thing about Alzheimer’s? You always meet new people.
What does this have to do with media on the web?
Everything, I think.
Up until now, we have always lived in a linear world of very limited shelf-space.
That is, there were a limited number of TV or cable channels, a limited number of hours of broadcasting. In the world of music, there was only so much shelf space at Tower Records. In the world of books, only so many shelves at Barnes and Nobles.
The upshot of those physical limitations was there there were only so many movies, or TV shows or albums or books that you could be exposed to in any given time period. With limited shelf space came the need to constantly create new material. Once an album had been played X number … Read More »
Library under construction – along with a 50 story hotel and condo….
I live across the street from a library…
or at least what used to be a library. The Donnell Library on West 53rd Street.
Today, it is a big hole in the ground.
There is going to be a 50-story condominium and Baccarat Hotel where the Donnell Library used to be.
Frankly, I will not miss the library.
Even though I lived right across the street from it for many years, I never went inside. I never sat in its reading room. I never checked out a book. I never explored its stacks to go through old volumes of bound periodicals in some research project.
Why would I do that?
Why, when I can order up pretty much anything I want online, any time I want. Admittedly, the library is free (thank you Benjamin Franklin for … Read More »