- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Video dinosaur

"When MTV started 19 years ago, it entered a world where music video and cable TV were both in childhood… .
"MTV became identified with youth, and endless commercialism dominated the channel, with American commercial pop and rock taking over. For example, every one of Madonna's self-renovations was shown over and over.
"Then, in the 1990s, videos started vanishing in favor of original programming… .
"For some, MTV was still an icon of decadence, but for others it symbolized cheesiness… .
"Yet no matter how bad MTV gets, it won't go away. Since it was one of the first generation of cable channels, it has a tenured position in the channel selection. Perhaps one day a serious competitor will come along and show that MTV has been a dinosaur for over a decade."
Chris Stamper, writing on "MTV's million," in the March 25 issue of World

Revisionist romance

"Jane Austen is one of those women from the past who has been both co-opted by feminists and patronized for her lack of geopolitical interest… .
"But the politicization of Jane Austen began much earlier, at the conclusion of the suffragette era and the beginning of modern feminism… . [T]he problem that feminist lovers of books always face with Jane Austen [is] she writes so well, and is so much fun to read, that some way must be found to 'save' her for private reading and academic study even though her plot lines run to standard romantic boy-meets-girl, boy-leaves-girl, boy-gets-girl formulas. In other words, feminists must distinguish Jane Austen from her successors in the romantic fiction genre in order to justify the pleasant habit of reading her… .
"Some revisionists would like to believe that Austen was in some sense 'deconstructing' her society as busily as she was constructing her characters… . In this ingenious way, feminists can snuggle up in an armchair with 'Emma' or 'Pride and Prejudice' while deploring almost every convention, value, or article of faith that Austen herself not only was reared in but also accepted as her own."
Ellen Wilson Fielding, writing on "A Jane for All Seasons," in the winter issue of the Women's Quarterly

AOL and journalism

"I've always been frustrated with [the belief that] readers abandoned newspapers. If you look, from the 1970s, at the decline in circulation among newspapers, you'll find that newspapers abandoned their readers and not vice versa. The Atlanta newspapers cut off all of southern Georgia because it was too costly to drive [copies] down there to deliver them. Chicago cut off southern Illinois. The Philadelphia Inquirer cut off western Pennsylvania. Newspapers all over the country abandoned readers. As newspapers moved their demographics up and as they shrunk their distance in order to maintain a level of profit that has been consistently higher than other industries in the United States, they abandoned readers. Once you break the habit of reading the newspaper and it is a habit it doesn't just crank up again… .
"[AOL's purchase of Time Warner] is enormously significant. You now have an Internet company that is merging with print, broadcast and other forms of communication. You've got everything in the mix now, and the tail that's wagging the dog is AOL, which has no tradition, no history, no grasp of journalism and the principles that make journalism what it is.
"If you noticed, when [AOL chairman and CEO] Steve Case stood up the day they announced the deal, the litany he recited was entertainment, personal shopping and personal interconnection telephone service. He never mentioned journalism."
Nieman Foundation curator Bill Kovach, as interviewed in the Feb. 28 Editor and Publisher

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