Mass Media’s Creative Destruction

( – promoted by garrett3000)

Economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term “creative destruction” as a way of describing the ability of capitalism to reinvent itself. His insight was a critique of classical Marxism which held that capitalism was inevitably doomed, in part, because of the irreversible march of history. The Marxist sense of  predestination can find its corollary in the misguided economic determinism of certain corporations – notably mass media.

Writer Bob Garfield of Ad Age has a fascinating article on how mass media’s current phase of “creative destruction” is for some of its leaders more akin to an unwelcomed apocalypse of biblical proportions:

This isn’t about the end of commerce or the end of marketing or news or entertainment. All of the above are finding new expressions online, and in time will flourish thanks to the very digital revolution that is now ravaging them. The future is bright. But the present is apocalyptic. Any hope for a seamless transition — or any transition at all — from mass media and marketing to micro media and marketing are absurd.

The sky is falling, the frog in the pot has come to a boil and, oh yeah, we are, most of us, exquisitely, irretrievably fucked.

The New Right’s John Henke makes the case that conservatives/Republicans should take advantage of the mass media chaos (especially in journalism) & do it ASAP since their ideological adversaries are already a few steps ahead of them in reshaping the mass media of the future. Rob Willington has already hinted at this situation in a previous RMG post but Henke is more blunt in his assessment of the problem:

One final note that should concern those of us on the Right: while the Right has used the internet to expand the media criticism it had been doing for many years, the Left has been busy using the internet to build their own media infrastructure.  At this stage in the WordPress era, the entrepreneurs have come from the Left.  The Right needs new infrastructure and new guards.  That is going to require an investment in these new business models.

Actor/writer/director Tim Robbins recently lectured media leaders at a recent NAB convention on their responsibilities in shaping a better society. Yes, Robbins is a liberal Democrat but a lot of what he said in his six minute address is true & will resonate with a lot of voters who care about the condition of their culture. Robbins cleverly utilizes the current economic upheavals to inspire his audience to make sure their economic interests comport with the nation’s moral interest. Yes, moral. Robbins fancies himself speaking truth to power but he at least acknowledges the power of the mass media to shape the nation’s culture. Most liberal Democrats do. Unfortunately most conservatives/Republicans view media ONLY through the prism of entertainment (Rush Limbaugh being a notable exception). Social conservatives use media to reinforce their worldview & rarely challenge the broader media beyond their own self-contained technological ghetto. Libertarians in the media have some success within pockets of the mass media (like radio or independent film) but find themselves out-maneuvered by liberals whose matrix of networks – subsidized & promulgated through a host of political/non-political organizations – allows them greater power to influence the masses.

Or at least that used to be true under the old mass media paradigm which is now going through revolutionary changes. Robbins “gets” it. So do a lot of liberal/Democrat activists who are currently in the process of reshaping the mass media paradigm so that they can ride the wave of creative destruction towards a new paradigm whereupon they maintain their ideological hegemony over the masses. Conservatives/Republicans need to be as aggressively creative in adapting to the mass media’s New World Order if they hope to remain viable in the eyes of the public. Garfield said it best in his article cited at the top of this diary:

The toll will be so vast — and the institutions of media and marketing are so central to our economy, our culture, our democracy and our very selves — that it’s easy to fantasize about some miraculous preserver of “reach” dangling just out of reach. We need “mass,” so mass, therefore, must survive. Alas, economies are unsentimental and denial unproductive. The post-advertising age is under way.

About ConcernedVoterInMass