The Passing of Michael Jackon and Mass Media.
Yesterday was Michael Jackson’s Memorial service. The world mourned. Yes, the world mourned. As I watched TV with much of the world, I wondered what we were mourning. I didn’t ask that as a way of disparaging Michael’s talents. I’ve been a fan of his music like you probably have too. But the fact that I can even say that you were probably a fan of his music is what I think we’re mourning, or at least in part. Were we bidding farewell to a time when we all listened to the same thing, watched the same thing, danced to the same beat?
At the same time, I’ve been reading a thought-provoking book by Bob Bob Garfield called The Chaos Scenario, about the disintegration of mass media. The book outlines in stark terms how the media landscape we’ve known for 60 years is spiraling out of existence. TV networks have an unsustainable business model. So do magazines, radio, newspapers, and even many of the Web sites we’ve come to accept as part of the landscape of our lives. The cost of maintaining these entities can’t be met by the money they bring in from advertisers because the audience isn’t concentrated enough to charge that much money. Add to that our changing habits as active participants in media creation and consumption versus the previous model of passively taking in the media we were fed because of a lack of choice and its ability to only flow in one direction.
None of this means that there isn’t another talented performer out there that meets Michael Jackson’s level of talent. I might even hear him today on the station Pandora has created for me. I’ve called it Morton Radio. You can check it out here. While I might discover the next Michael Jackson that resonates with me, the chances of you finding him on my Pandora radio station are pretty slim. The chance of everyone in the world finding their next Michael Jackson on my radio station is virtually impossible.
RIP MJ. RIP Mass Media.