The star media reporter of The New Yorker says that heads of giant media companies can’t keep up with the “velocity of change” or the elusive younger audience.
“Scared.” That’s what Ken Auletta said he has discovered about media moguls as the media reporter for The New Yorker.
“The velocity of change scares the hell out of them,” he said during a speech at the Harvard Club in New York City last night.
And their fear is not entirely unfounded, he said. “It’s a kind of revolution. Look at the future: Are we jumping onto concrete or water; and from how high? We have no facts, parameters. It’s all guesses.”
Auletta said the moguls are afraid of technology and consumers.
Young people are “migrating away from television” and are difficult to reach, more difficult than in previous generations, because they have more media options and because they are often multitasking, he said.
The new media is “fracturing” society by the sheer numbers of options, Auletta said. Radio brought people together, giving them a common source of entertainment and news, he said. When the three networks dominated television, they gave us shows people discussed around the water cooler or over the back fence, and news upon which everyone relied.
Now the diversity of media and of choices within each medium lets people march to their own drummers, but “there is a tradeoff.” The body politic is fragmented and innovations such TiVo, which allows people to tune out commercials, wreak havoc on advertising, which then has an impact on television.
Auletta cited NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, lauding it and wondering how such programs would be financed in the future if advertising dollars continue to stray from broadcast networks to other media.
He also wondered how much product placement there could be—he claimed ad agencies are demanding ever more control over content—before viewers withdraw because “it’s all advertising.”