Monday, February 28, 2005

When Media Was Open

I think each medium has its Golden Age. I just bought Donald Theall's "The Virtual McLuhan" primarily because Edmund Carpenter wrote a very long appendix about the work he and McLuhan did at the University of Toronto and afterward. See if this passage has a ring to it.

For one brief moment, media were open, democratic. I recall another instance, this one personal. I discovered that the ancient Serpent Mound near Peterborough, though on government land, had been sub-divided. Tress had been cut. Bulldozzers stood ready. Officials ignored me. So I mounted a one-man media crusade. Officialdom closed ranks. On the last day I gambled. I was never certain, but I suspected a $3,000 bribe, at a low level. Higher-ups, I knew, feared the charge of cover-up. I called the provincial minister of Education. The moment I got through, I warned: "Destroy that mound and I'll wipe your fucking ass across every headline in the province." It worked, instantly. The place is now a park. I believe a plaque there honors those same officials.

I mention these two incidents to illustrate changes in media access. Today (in the U.S. at least), private citizens, unless they possess immense wealth, have little access to media. This wasn't true of Toronto in the 'fifties. Media were then open, competing, democratic. A remarkable moment. It didn't last. Power & profit got their act together. Form open market, media went to closed networks.
p 251-252

With several bloggers become regulars on television and the A-list position being firmed up, where are we now? Or with musicians on the radio?

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