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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

August 20, 2008 / Toby Dayton

The Fascination In Watching Old Media Being Subducted Beneath New Media

With increasing frequency, seismic shock waves have been reverberating through the media world, grabbing headlines and shifting the way people think about the drastically altered landscape. These might, for example, include daily newspapers announcing massive layoffs as they inch closer to bankruptcy, the introduction of technology that allows people to rent, download and watch feature-length movies on a cell phone (I still am dumbstruck by the iPhone), presidential candidates announcing their VP choice via email directly to campaign supporters, or a blog network being sold for $30 million, etc.

But what tends to get overlooked are the constant, growing tensions between old and new media that precipitate these larger 6.5-type earthquakes. It is these front-line battles, these competitive skirmishes, these seemingly one-off incidents where the actual transformations are taking place day in and day out. Like a dense oceanic plate being subducted underneath a more buoyant continental plate, old media’s subduction beneath new media is occurring all over the place at all times in large and small ways, but often beyond the sight of most people. The earthquakes and volcanoes grab the headlines and shock people into recognition of what is happening, but the smaller events can be just as fascinating to watch.

Two such events have caught my eye recently. The first is a wildly entertaining debate between Will Leitch of the enormously popular sports blog Deadspin, and Buzz Bissinger, a sports columnist and author of Friday Night Lights. Taking place earlier this year, the debate between the relative merits and value of blogs versus the newspaper, and the role that blogs are increasingly playing as a source of news, information, entertainment, and media content, occurred on Costas Now and was moderated, as best it could have been, by Bob Costas himself. It is incredible to witness so visibly, the massive, irreconcilable chasm that exists between old and new media. It is well worth the time to watch it.

The second incident, similar in nature and equally as hypocritical but with far less sparks, centers around the brewing battle between bloggers and the Associated Press about citation and fair use. It is, yet again, another example of the pathetic, futile, and sometimes even laughable attempts by old media to stop the forces of plate tectonics.

So while the big earthquakes grab the attention, it is just as fascinating, and perhaps even more interesting, to watch the smaller events that are taking place within the subduction zone. It is particularly enjoyable to watch a myopic hypocrite like Bissinger arrogantly, and with flawed logic, dismiss new media and bemoan the future of sports journalism (and perhaps even society itself) in the hands of people like Will Leitch as he and the newspapers he writes for get crushed down into the lithosphere.