The Sheer Stupidity of Newspapers These Days

Time Warner the Victim?

As long as we're on the subject of the stupidity of media executives, my favorite quote of the week came from Richard Parsons, CEO of Time Warner Inc., speaking at the annual National Cable & Telecommunications Association conference in Las Vegas.

According to Reuters -- a fact that may give Parsons plausible deniability -- Parsons said, incredibly, "The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation. They will lose this war if they go to war. The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion."

In assessing a statement like that, it's hard to know where to begin. But let's try.

First of all, with its mixed metaphors and pretzel logic, this quote alone ought to be enough to make both the board and the shareholders of Time Warner a bit nervous about who is piloting the ship.

But more than that, as others have noted elsewhere, it was the Sioux who lost the war. Comparing yourself to Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at Little Big Horn may sound noble and heroic, but the final tally was that the Sioux were driven onto reservations, Crazy Horse was murdered and Sitting Bull ended up a novelty act in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (and then murdered).

Is this really the analogy he wanted to make?

But leaving aside Parson's nearly fatal foray into historical allusion, the very notion of Time Warner being a victim in all of this is pretty hard to swallow. Ten years ago, when Time Warner ruled American media, it wouldn't have even cared about an upstart like Google. Now, suddenly, it's trying to portray itself as a David against the Google Goliath of Mountain View, Calif.

Sorry, but no tears here.

The truth is that Time Warner, along with the rest of the media giants, was too technologically unsophisticated to recognize that when it handed over all of its information search operations to that funky little Silicon Valley company with the cute name, it was also handing over a very large chunk of its advertising revenues. Now that these corporate giants have realized their mistake, and have recognized to their horror that it may be too late, they are presenting themselves as the tiny band of heroic survivors of a sneak attack.

Frankly, if anybody looks like the 7th Cavalry these days -- surrounded, beleaguered and doomed by the arrogance of its leaders -- it's Big Media.

The Evil Overlord of the Mainstream Media

If the demotion of James Lileks is this week's blogosphere scandal, last week's was certainly the mess at Digg.com, where its online community decided to post the security code trade secrets of the HD-DVD industry.

Those of you who read my column last week will remember that my primary objection in all of this was that the founder of Digg, Kevin Rose, instead of making a good faith effort -- even a doomed one -- to halt this activity, instead decided to join the mob. It was an irresponsible, and unprofessional, move that, I predicted, might well lead to the end of Digg.com itself.

Well, you've probably read that the HD-DVD folks are now preparing to sue. And though I've never been a fan of anti-copying software, believing it to be a waste of time, I do believe the industry is well within its rights to bring such a suit -- and will likely win. The Digg community may well have just committed the first Web 2.0 suicide.

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