The Future of Content Providers

The alliance between MCI and Rupert Murdoch's media empire is a map for the information age to come

he alliance between Washington, D.C.'s own MCI and the Australian lowest-common-denominator media baron Rupert Murdoch is logical, elegant, and represents the future of the information age.

Entertain the logic: Those who provide the content (and, yes, there are odd bits of content on the Fox TV network that prove ol' Rupe has some talented people working for him) shall marry those who own or control access to the method of delivery. It's McLuhan turned on his head - and in a peculiarly American way, it's good for the information future.

Why? We are in the midst of watching the proliferation of an ubermedium that has the potential to eclipse, at the least, radio, the printed press [WHOOP! WHOOP! self-loathing alert] and about 80 percent of the content-free cable channels in existence. It is the much-hyped World Wide Web, of course.

And, to anyone who has cruised the Web, the logic of agreements such as MCI/Murdoch becomes clear: the Web is loaded with trayf, flapdoodle and hoo-ha. Web pages featuring people's cats and the level of the coffee pots at [federal laboratory of choice] are wastes of bandwidth. When you come right down to it, isn't Media General Cable's NASA channel really just a Web Page in disguise? Everyone wants to be able to whip over to http//murdoch.fox.x-files.howard-stern.entertainment.wasteland, right?

In a serious vein, however, media content providers (especially those with news departments and other journalistic limbs) will have to place themselves in key positions - and, oddly, with the appropriate types of alliances, they no longer need be middlemen.

What we are talking about is this: Without media content providers at the top of the distribution chain, who will objectively filter out all of the interests who seek to use current media to get their message across, legitimizing spurious content with the relatively simple technology of the Web page?

Interest groups from the National Rifle Association to Greenpeace spend millions of dollars trying to get media outlets to quote them, use their in-house-generated studies or show up at their staged protests. Much of the public, cruising a newly-legitimized Web media world, will hardly be able to tell what's real and what was simply funneled to the Web by interest groups - past the people in the media we have appointed arbiters of truth.

And at the moment, the truth ain't got no URL.


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