August 20, 2000—It's
a Barnum and Bailey World
It truly is a Barnum and Bailey world. We live on-stage in a
virtual universe where digits are constantly pressing on our consciousness.
Instead of touching earth, sun, and sky, we duel with messages at every
turn. It just begins at cable, telephone, wireless, and the Internet. We are
also unwillingly caught up in customer-relationship (customer-abuse) schemes
where our specific buying habits and demographics are recorded so that
messages, products, offers and cooperative advertising can be beamed at us
and clutter our mailbox. We live in a media envelope that has reshaped and
unsettled our lives.
It is replete with problems, challenges, and wonderful opportunities.
For the individual it seems to be singularly responsible for a tremendous
increase in stress--no matter where you live--during the last decade. Too
For the company or institution, it has totally upset the rules of
communication. First, no company knows totally what is being said about it
out there, because there's too much there, even if we make use of the
special services that now can scan the Internet on our behalf.
Then too, we no longer know if we are reaching and affecting the people who
count for us. The new media channels have vastly increased the number of
news providers. Opinion-makers who affect us deeply are hidden from our
But the promise of a multi-channel world is now beginning to come to
fruition. Even as the TV networks, major business magazines, and urban
papers become progressively more irrelevant, significant options are arising
that can fill our media needs.
The coverage of the Republican convention underscores this point. The major
TV networks simply failed. MSNBC and C-Span did the best job of bringing us
the news--and all the news. Narrow casting--slice by slice--is the golden
opportunity of the broadband world, where more discriminating content is
delivered to smaller communities of people with common interests.
Cable, satellite, and the Internet have vastly lowered the costs of reaching
small pockets of the national market. Amidst all the chatter and trivia,
some wonderful differentiated, quality entertainment and information is
emerging. Now if we can find some easy way for the consumer to separate the
wheat from the chaff, without dialing through 140 channels or spending
fruitless hours surfing with useless search engines. For now at least we
must rely on traditional newspaper and magazine columns to point out the
best and brightest to us. Old media's new duty is to lead us through the new
Back to Top of
Return to the Index of
Letters from the Global Province