June 17, 2003


TWO WAYS TO USE THE INTERNET: If you're Tye Wolfe of the Ithaca Times:

Spout nonsense to Romenesko about evil corporate consolidation.

Time, with yet another hagiography of Harry Potter/JK Rowling on its cover this week, is the poster boy for the problems related to media consolidation. Time says Harry Potter (and Pokemon, which received similar slobbering) are "cultural events" that deserve serious "news" treatment. But when was the last time a non-Warner Bros. production was put on the cover of the magazine? Time's better angels are losing the battle for journalistic independence with the AOL-Time Warner beancounters.
Or, if you're slightly less lazy than, well, Tye Wolfe:

Go to Time's website, to the convenient Cover Search function, where you can easily browse through past issues of the mag. There you'll find the June 24, 2002 Tom Cruise cover, touting Fox/Dreamworks SKG's Minority Report. Or perhaps the May 20, 2002 Spider-Man cover (Columbia Pictures, owned by Sony). Or the April 29, 2002 Yoda cover (Star Wars: Episode II was produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Fox). If you wanted to get nitpicky, you could even count the Two Towers cover from December 2, 2002 - that movie was produced by New Line Cinemas, which is owned by AOLTimeWarner but is still technically "a non-Warner Bros. production."

But let's not get nitpicky-- let's stipulate that of the four feature films featured on the cover of Time in 2002, one was owned by AOLTimeWarner. The one film cover so far in 2003 was the May 12 Matrix Reloaded cover (a Warner Bros. production).

So two out of five Time covers with movies on them in the last eighteen months have involved AOLTimeWarner properties. Though there's no movie out right now, go ahead and add in the current Harry Potter cover, if you'd prefer to pretend against all evidence that Harry Potter is not a newsworthy cultural phenomenom. That brings the total to three of six.

The question I have: is this record worse than, say, trading a free meal for a guaranteed rave in the local weekly paper? That, after all, is how every restaurant review is written at (ahem) the Ithaca Times.

Posted by John Tabin at June 17, 2003 03:05 AM