Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moments in history - the transformation of the print media

Bruce Bartlett, a respectable "second tier" (meaning not wealthy) columnist is  quitting the business. Extracting from DeLong's extraction:

... The Internet, in particular, has enormously changed the ability to get a message out.... Today, anyone with a computer and a modem can start a blog and, for all intents and purposes, be a columnist. ..

... Those who wanted more biting opinion gravitated to the Internet, where vast numbers of people offer commentary along every single point on the political spectrum. It became very easy to find writers expressing exactly one's own personal opinion about everything. Bloggers also have the advantages of no space constraints, an ability to post comments in real time, and to offer links to supporting documents and sources. Now they even have audio and video.

As a result, the demand for traditional column writing has pretty much dried up.... I don't mourn the old system. I am a great fan of bloggers and learn far more from them than I do from the Broders and Friedmans of the world, who have largely become irrelevant to serious political discussion....

I think a future historian will want to take note of this column. It is a milestone, of sorts, in the long delayed transformation of print media. Murdoch's WSJ acquisition is another milestone.

Where it will go we cannot know, but I agree with Bartlett that almost any blog is an improvement over Friedman, and radio silence is an improvement over Broder.

PS. I suppose we call our DSL/cable thingies "modems", but it does sound a bit anachronistic in this context. It reads like he was thinking of a device that beeped and hissed and sang off key ... Just thinking of that makes me remember Hayes command tweaking, and that makes me think of heavy drink ...

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