Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Michael Crichton, RIP

At 6 feet, 9 inches tall, Michael Crichton may have been a giant to some people. Even if future AmLit profs don't consider him a literary giant, they will be forced to admit that he was a commercial one. He died on November 4th, from cancer.

Most people know and remember that he was a physician as well as a writer. The long running ER on NBC was his creation. The list of his books and movies is long, may favorites being The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Disclosure and The Lost World.

Techdirt reminds us that he wrote for Wired magazine. In 1993 he wrote a column based on a speech he had given called Mediasaurus. As you might infer from the title, long before the blogosphere derided the MSM, Chrichton forecasted their demise.

Instead of me regurgitating Techdirt's precis of Chrichton's column, read the bit a Techdirt, than read the man's words from 1993.

But I will rip-off Techdirt's last two paragraphs:

He goes on to decry the way news becomes polarized -- he refers to it as the Crossfire Syndrome -- noting that it uses soundbites and extreme positions to ignore the real issues, and basically does the viewer or reader a disservice. And his premise is that the consumer of media recognizes this and would jump to alternatives. Ten years after he wrote this piece, Jack Shafer checked in with him to get his reaction to the fact that his prediction of the death of such media organizations appeared wrong. Crichton replied that: "I doubt I'm wrong, it's just too early."

And, indeed, earlier this year, Shafer checked back in with Crichton, admitting that many of his predictions did seem to now be on target. One of the statements Crichton made towards the end of that interview should be the mantra for the modern newsroom if it wants to be successful: "I want a news service that tells me what no one knows, but is true nonetheless. That's what I would value." He's not the only one.

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