Media Makeover: Improving The News One Click at a Time by Alisa Miller
Would Media Makeover count towards promotion and tenure? A 4 minute and 27 second TED talk that has been viewed over 533,000 times. A 31 page e-book that sell for under 3 bucks. Is this scholarship that would count? Just curious.
Until I read Media Makeover I had no idea that TED books existed. What an awesome idea. Concise e-books to complement concise TED videos. At a price lower than what you'd pay for a Tall latte at Starbucks. Did you know about these TED books?
The best way to judge if you want to buy Media Makeover is to go watch Miller's TED video. The book is a terrific complement to the TED Talk, expanding on the data and arguments that can only be touched on in a short video.
Miller is the CEO of Public Radio International, and is therefore not only a media critic and observer but someone responsible for producing over 400 hours of original programming each week. She knows exactly how much more expensive it is to pay international correspondents to find and tell original stories than to rely on wire services and repackaged news. Miller gets that the economics of the news business will push to celebrity coverage, as reporting on Angelina Jolie is cheaper than paying for a reporter in Angola.
Of all the trends that Miller points to, the consolidation of the news business is easily the most worrisome. She writes that...
"…five mega-corporations control the lion’s share of news output and audience in this country (Fox, Time Warner, Walt Disney Co., CBS and GE/Comcast). These companies are powerful because they reach the most people across two or more key news platforms: broadcast, cable, online and print."
We spend more time than ever consuming news, an average of 70 minutes a day, but the news we do consume (still mostly by TV) is "…dominated by crime, accidents and infotainment."
Miller is less than enthusiastic that the media conglomerates, or anyone associated with TV news, will re-invest in in-depth international coverage and long-form storytelling. Rather, new platforms such as the Washington Post's Trove app (a great app, check it out), or sites such as ProPublica (an independent, nonprofit that does investigative journalism in the public interest) offer the strongest antidote to dumbed down TV news. (Of course, she is also a fan of all things Public Radio).
Are higher ed incumbents immune from following media incumbents towards the lowest common denominator? Will quality and innovation come outside of our campuses, just as media innovation is outside of the traditional networks?
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