Great Visionaries And Bad Players

For my first column as a TV critic, when I was 23, I interviewed Mike Wallace, a session that lasted from the time we climbed into a taxi at the airport until his destination in a suburb about 20 minutes away. Things were going OK, until my tongue and brain couldn’t get it straight so I stumbled over a crucial word.

Wallace leaned over and, softly and gently, but with a knife nonetheless, asked, “Son, are you trying to say ‘incredulity’?”

 Yes, I was.

I’ve now written on the Online Video Daily blog or whatever, since December 2012, and if writing about streaming video has taught me anything at all, it’s that being incredulous really isn’t worth it.

Early on, I learned that when I was reporting on some next-greatest-thing I suspected might not be that great, it was best to hedge my bets. I ended a lot of pieces with “we’ll see.”

I also wrote (and believe): “Generally, in the online video biz, what can come to pass…comes to pass.”

So many bad ideas, so much bandwidth.

And truly, there are so many brilliant dreamers who are changing the world I know. I am lucky to have met some of them.

As it has been recently for a few others here, this is my last day at MediaPost. I’m so thankful to Ken Fadner and Joe Mandese, the editor, for the chance to do my thing here, and to learn as I went along.  (Thanks, too, to Fern and Nina and Shari and Jeff and Katie and Jon.)

At a holiday party a couple years ago, Joe told us he was really proud he hadn’t spoken to many of us for a while, which was his quirky way of saying he trusted we knew what we were doing. How damn nice of him, and what a funny, unsentimental way to say he respected our talents. He should.

A lot of truly smart, gifted people work on the MediaPost newsletters you receive every day, none smarter than Joe — I would say that even if invoicing him for my work in May wasn’t next on my list of things to do.

I have no big wind up. But I leave amazed that streaming still seems like an alternate universe. It seems to get the leftover attention from marketers and advertisers, despite a rather unique audience, totally different from any before it. Yet, people are wary all around. It seems ... devious, not accountable.

Once before I mentioned a “graphical quote” at the beginning of Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message, in which philosopher A.N. Whitehead observed: “The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.” I wonder how fully we are living that quote.

The video world is kicking a whole case of cans down the road. It had time — and maybe still does — to have addressed fake ads, fake Web sites, fake views, fake pixels and now fake news, and even fake definitions of fake news. And fake presidents.

In March, the Pew Research Center issued “The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online.” Read it someday, but not if your antidepressant prescription has lapsed.

Pew canvassed 1,53 “technology experts, scholars, corporate practitioners and government leaders.” Among the miserable findings was that 39% said they expect the online future will be “more shaped” by negative activities. “Those who said they expect the Internet to be ‘less shaped' by harassment, trolling and distrust were in the minority," a summary of the report said.

 Let’s get on that.

 If you don’t think that’s an advertising issue, as well as a societal one, well, I’m incredulous.

 See you. Thanks to all of you.


Next story loading loading..