Commentary

Media Town 101

I love Media Town. I love that it is run by a guy who is one of the richest and most powerful media barons in the world, but who prefers a day job being its mayor. I love that when he needed to replace one of the most important and highest profile members of his team - the chancellor of Media Town's schools - he tapped one of the best managers in the media business. I love that former Chancellor Joel Klein is leaving to take a job working for one of the other richest and most powerful media barons in the world. I love that that baron wants him to reimagine how media can be used to educate the world, and how he will likely end up educating his competitors about what a lucrative market that can be. I love that Cathy Black looked so awesome standing there in the stark, scrutinizing glare of Media Town, especially after I learned that she is 66. Go girl.

I love that everything about Media Town reminds us that in some significant way, we are an extension of Media Town itself. Even if we've never actually lived there. Never worked there. Never experienced it directly, but for the content and conduits it has exported into our lives. I love that we are all a part of Media Town, but we are forever looking in.

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I love that I can imagine how the conversation might have gone.

Bloomberg: Cathy, have you thought about your legacy?

Black: What do you mean, Mike?

Bloomberg: I mean, how people will remember you. Do you want it to be, "Cathie Black, media executive," or something more?

Black: I'm listening.

Bloomberg: How about, "Cathie Black, educator?" Or, "Cathie Black, the woman who saved New York's education system? Cathie Black, the first woman to be mayor of New York?" Or how about, "Cathie Black, first woman to be Vice President of the United States?"

Black: Vice?

I love how Media Town showed its uneducated side, turning on one of its own and questioning Black's qualifications to be New York City's Chancellor of Schools, but failing to understand the role media will play in the future of education. And forgetting to point out that she is an incredible manager, which is after all, what a chancellor fundamentally is.

Any native of Media Town can tell you how much media influences education. As a product of its education system, I can tell you that personally. For me, media and education are intertwined. The first time I began thinking critically about media, was at JHS 135 in the Bronx, where as a 70s-era 7th-grader, I simultaneously took courses in "mass communications" and "health science." In the communications class, we read Marshall McLuhan and discussed how the media we consumed shaped what was in our minds. In the health class, we read Rachel Carson and discussed how what we put in our environment, and our bodies, shapes us physically.

There has always been a strong connection between education and media. It is media that brought education to the masses from Guttenberg to Wikipedia to the University of Phoenix. And I have little doubt that it will be media - maybe the kind that Klein helps develop at News Corp. - that will determine how we are educated in the future. So, if you ask me, I cannot think of a better, more qualified Chancellor for Media Town, than Black.

And if I Black would like any advice from me, I would tell her to make media a focus of the curriculum of Media Town. Sure, it always has been. What other town has had high schools for Art & Design, Music & Art, and the Performing Arts? What other town now has a High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media ?

3 comments about "Media Town 101".
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  1. Sheldon Senzon from JMS Media, Inc., November 12, 2010 at 8:54 a.m.

    Great post from another Bronx guy in the media biz. So, Pelham Parkway area in the 70's, care to share a little about your career path?

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, November 12, 2010 at 9:57 a.m.

    If I did that Sheldon, I'd be blowing the Riff's anonymity. But suffice to say, all roads lead from Pelham Parkway.

  3. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, November 12, 2010 at 2:11 p.m.

    Warm welcome back to The Riff !

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