[Paleopsych] NY Post: Mass-Media Meltdown
checker at panix.com
Mon May 16 20:20:18 UTC 2005
May 10, 2005 -- THE mass-media melt down is happening everywhere you
look from the multiplex to the newsstand, from late-night television
to drive-time radio.
* Hollywood is in a panic, because for nine weeks straight, box office
grosses have been lower than last year's.
As Gabriel Snyder wrote in yesterday's edition of Variety, "In recent
years the first weekend of May has seen a big expansion in the
marketplace. But if [the current] estimate of $83 million holds when
final figures are tallied, it would be the worst weekend of an already
listless year. It is also 26 percent behind last year's summer kickoff
frame, when 'Van Helsing' opened to $51.7 million perceived as a
disappointment at the time."
* The editors and publishers of most major American newspapers are
terrified, because declines in newspaper circulation are accelerating
at an alarming clip. By one reckoning, the Los Angeles Times lost an
astounding 13 percent of its readers in a year's time.
* Television networks are reeling from a dramatic contraction of its
audience of young male viewers aged 18-34 the cohort most desired by
advertisers. According to a controversial Nielsen study, their
prime-time viewership has declined by nearly 8 percent. The number has
been shrinking for more than a decade.
* Talk-radio audiences in major cities like New York and Washington
have fallen since the 2004 election. Meanwhile, radio executives who
program music stations and who have been packing every hour with
increasing numbers of commercials are being forced by their impatient
audiences to limit the number of ads and play more music.
* The American recording industry is in tatters, increasingly unable
to introduce new stars and to sell new music.
There are compelling individual explanations for these phenomena. For
instance, this year's movies have been extraordinarily uninteresting.
And the collapse in newspaper circulation may simply be the result of
more honest reporting on the part of publishers chastened by the
public exposure last year of fraudulent numbers at papers like Newsday
and the Dallas Morning News.
But it can't be a coincidence that the five major pillars of the
American media movies, television, radio, recorded music and
newspapers are all suffering at the same time. And it isn't. Something
major has changed over the past year, as the availability of
alternative sources of information and entertainment has finally
reached critical mass.
Newly empowered consumers are letting the producers, creators and
managers of the nation's creative and news content know that they are
dissatisfied with the product they're being peddled.
Take the moviegoing audience. For 25 years, people have been watching
movies at home on video and DVD. But only in the past year or so have
people been able to afford big flat screens in their homes that offer
an aural and visual experience superior in many ways to a movie
The $2,000 price tag for that TV doesn't seem so steep when you
consider that an average married couple has to pay upwards of $70 ($22
for two tickets, another $15 for soda and popcorn for two, parking
fees, babysitter) to attend a single film. And it doesn't seem like
that much of a treat when the movie is being projected onto a filthy
piece of billowing white canvas that is never cleaned.
And so it goes. Satellite radio makes it possible for people willing
to spend $12 a month to listen to superb sound quality without
commercials. TiVo and digital video recorders have finally made it
easy for people to watch the TV programs they want to watch whenever
they want to watch them. And it goes without saying that the Internet
has transformed the way people interested in news can get their
It also goes without saying that the owners and distributors of old
media aren't just going to go quietly into that good night. These are
still unimaginably valuable platforms. But the key will be
understanding that the self-satisfied conduct of media professionals
peddling unwatchable nonsense in Hollywood and on TV, and foisting
politically correct pseudo-information on increasingly sophisticated
consumers of news isn't going to hack it any longer.
E-mail: podhoretz at nypost.com
More information about the paleopsych