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Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Monday, July 6, 2009

Journalism's May-September Marriage

Renay San Miguel is a former CNN host and now with and a tech blogger for TechNewsWorld, based in Seattle.

We chatted the other day about whether mainstream media have gone berserk over Michael Jackson's death (San Miguel calls it "smotherage"...a wonderful portmanteau of a word). My own sense was that the media did what the media does best - giving into the public's widespread fascination and obsessions with a larger than life figure. Was it over the top? Of course. But a few days hence, other obsessions will replace it.

Like OJ Simpson, Jackson had all of the attributes of a story that keeps on giving: sex, race, crime and popular culture. One's view of both personalities is determined more by where you come from and not from where you are right now.

Was Jackson's death more significant than the putative revolution in Iran? Yes and no.

San Miguel and I agreed that the new media - twitter, flickr, wikis, blogs and cellphone cameras are doing more to change the public's perception of the events than anything we've seen. And as the literary deconstructionists in the 1980s used to say about literature, the very act of reading a text, changes the text. What Dickens meant to say about 19th century London is changed when we read him in the present with our 21st century sensibilities.

In the same way, the very act of engaging in the news - by consuming it, by gathering it and by discussing it, powerfully changes the event itself. The ancient Greek philosophers understood this perfectly.

So too is the future of media to be found in the marriage of young media and old media. It will likely be a rocky relationship, but what choice do we have?

Renay San Miguel has some wonderful ideas and they can be found here.

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