Friday, 29 June 2012


Our Man has been struggling with the right metaphor or allegory or whateveryoumacallit to describe the changes to the Murdoch empire. Despite not actually reading beyond the first subhead of the NYT story, or indeed having much of any familiarity with the Roman Empire beyond the Asterix Era, Our Man can say with some confidence the following:

While Solomon only teased about splitting the baby in two, King Murdoch is severing his empire into the bad bit and the good bit. The bad bit will shrivel and die, like the Western Roman Empire, and the good bit, like the Eastern Roman Empire, will go on and on.

The problem is Our Man doesn't know which is which. Is the bit with Fox TV the good or bad bit? Or is the bit with the Sun and the Times and Wall Street Journal the bad bit? What about the Holy Roman Empire? The Catholic Church? The Sick Man of Europe? The Scramble for Africa? Arkright's Mill and the Spinning Jenny? Consider this from Clay Shirky:

Publishing is not evolving. Publishing is going away. Because the word “publishing” means a cadre of professionals who are taking on the incredible difficulty and complexity and expense of making something public. That’s not a job anymore. That’s a button. There’s a button that says “publish,” and when you press it, it’s done. In ye olden times of 1997, it was difficult and expensive to make things public, and it was easy and cheap to keep things private. Privacy was the default setting. We had a class of people called publishers because it took special professional skill to make words and images visible to the public. Now it doesn’t take professional skills. It doesn’t take any skills. It takes a Wordpress install.

So the publishing part of the Murdoch Empire is, to use an old newspaper expression, fucked. But Our Man reckons the same is true of the entertainment "good bit". Blogging is to newspapers what YouTube is to movie studios, n'est ce pas? Just give it a year or two.

Gatekeepers? Meet the barbarians.

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