Archive for July, 2009
Back in the 1880s and 90s, they used to take a couple of old locomotives and run ‘em head-on into each other for the pure entertainment value. One sunny day in 1896, up in West, Texas, some genius did just that. Thousands came out for the spectacle and paid $2/ticket; Ringling Brothers put up tents to make an impromptu town (called “Crush,” after the guy who staged it all). The two locomotives bore down on each other and hit head-on at 45 mph apiece. The boilers exploded, sending huge chunks of hot metal flying for hundreds of yards. Two were killed outright, and many more were injured. Wow…now who coulda seen that coming?
Before I’d seen anybody worth their salt report it, before CNN ran a “Breaking News” headline or the LA Times plastered his headshot across its homepage, I heard that Michael Jackson was dead. It was the Huffington Post, an outlet I’m just barely beginning to trust, and Twitter, one I’ll never fully believe, before anything else, and that was the weirdest part of the King of Pop’s death. How could it be true if we weren’t hearing it from the people who were supposed to tell us?
There are plenty of reasons why…print obviously has a very high fixed cost, just in terms of newsprint, presses, layout, labor, shipping and everything else you can think of. And when you read a newspaper, you’re obviously reading about something that happened 12 to 24 hours ago. Cable news? How 1980s of you. “Citizen journalists” have the edge on that. And lots of cable-TV viewers are rethinking their cable subscriptions (or even owning a TV), when all that content is available on Hulu.
The results that Obama got from his internet campaigning opened the eyes of other politicians to what they were missing. Simply having a website isn’t going to get the job done anymore; it’s not enough to get your word out to the people.