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September 2, 2008 / Toby Dayton

Frank Rich On The Rapidly Shifting Media Landscape…

From a great editorial by Frank Rich in Sunday’s New York Times entitled Obama Outwits the Bloviators

YouTube, the medium that has transformed our culture and politics, didn’t exist four years ago. Four years from now, it’s entirely possible that some, even many, of the newspapers and magazines covering this campaign won’t exist in their current form, if they exist at all. The Big Three network evening newscasts, and network news divisions as we now know them, may also be extinct by then.

It is a telling sign that CBS News didn’t invest in the usual sky box for its anchor, Katie Couric, in Denver. It is equally telling that CNN consistently beat ABC and CBS in last week’s Nielsen ratings, and NBC as well by week’s end. But now that media are being transformed at a speed comparable to the ever-doubling power of microchips, cable’s ascendancy could also be as short-lived as, say, the reign of AOL. Andrew Rasiej, the founder of Personal Democracy Forum, which monitors the intersection of politics and technology, points out that when networks judge their success by who got the biggest share of the television audience, “they are still counting horses while the world has moved on to counting locomotives.” The Web, in its infinite iterations, is eroding all 20th-century media.

It is jaw-dropping to step back and think about how rapidly and how dramatically the media landscape is being transformed by the web.