A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

Look to the media

Marshall McLuhan (February 27, 1962, age 50).  TV!

Every family’s got a drop-out, magazine’s like Life are in trouble, the auto industry is veering out of control, the textbook industry and our schools are being completely overhauled.  Why do so few people see that these things and a great many more are directly attributable to the impact of TV!

TV is not the first medium to have entirely reshaped society and it will not be the last.  But in many ways it is the most obvious.  The book escaped me for years.  I caught on to TV in seconds.

Me (February, 2010, age 57).  What if he’s right?

Marshall McLuhan’s observation about TV suggests the connection between the rise of the internet and the decay of newspapers.

Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!  In Atlanta where I was early last month for a conference, the 5 star hotel I stayed in (thanks to the special deal the American Economic Association was able to arrange for its members) did not supply newspapers for its guests, as the big hotels do in Toronto.  Their thinking being, I imagine that their guests would rather be on-line or in front of the TV.  In Montreal the English language newspaper The Gazette is given away outside metro stations to commuters in the mornings and in the afternoons, but few appear to want to take a paper.  Increasingly, the front page of the Gazette has become a showcase for advertisements, colour pictures and teasers about blogs and on-line stories.  Some days, like last Monday, the lead story no longer leads on the front page.

The French seem to be lagging in the abandonment of the newspaper.  The leading intellectual newspaper here is called Le Devoir.  What English language daily would call itself Homework?

Are you more likely to get your news from TV, on-line, or from a newspaper? When the newspaper disappears, where will the radio morning shows get their stories?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

The Montreal Gazette, February 1, 2010.

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Michael Hinton Friday, February 5th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Culture, Education, Vol. 1 1 Comment

1 Comment to Look to the media

  • Heather says:

    Having grown up pretty much in front of a TV, it was an easy way to get the latest on what’s going on in the world around me. The smallish Canadian city where I live has had limited access to local news. One newspaper, one local TV station, one radio station that offered local news. Being a border town with the US, American TV stations were most popular, including their news programs. So growing up I new more about what was going on in the neighboring city in the country next door than I did in the city that I lived. With the popularity of cable and digital television, more stations are available but content tends to be the same. The same headlines and similar soundbites of stories behind them intended to appeal to the multitudes of channel surfers in our ADD culture.

    Now I find myself gravitating towards online content as well as the printed word. For multiple reasons. More information is available, either from a more comprehensive story or by doing a simple search. That search can also fetch alternative perspectives to the same story. I also enjoy the small-sh news stories that don’t tend to make their way into a TV newscast. Things that interest me but might not interest enough to consider ‘newsworthy’ for the general audience. And since those TV news shows attempt to cram the main headlines, weather, sports and a sprinkling of general interest pieces among commercials into an hour, there is little room for diversity.

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