Twilight of the Media Elites

Into the morbid interregnum


In what’s becoming a Pull Request tradition, this is a companion piece to an interview of Martin Gurri, the great prophet of the media revolt. The two are best understood in tandem; this is an elaboration on and reaction to The Revolt of the Public: part review, part reply, part tangent.

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.-Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks

COVID has been the great accelerant of every budding trend: Virtual kitchens instead of restaurants, physical stores turning into e-commerce fulfillment centers, universal work from home (at least for the privileged Zoom class), flight from exclusive urban enclaves by the most affluent roiling rural real estate markets, homeschooling pods instead of mismanaged public schools, and —finally—pulling the plug on the ads-revenue ventilator for terminally-ill news journalism.

They’re all dying, all of them, laying off writers left and right: ViceVox, Buzzfeed, they’re all dead men walking. And most of their writers know it, which is why they’re easy pickings for those who aren’t, such as The New York Times, which early this year hired away former Buzzfeed grandee Ben Smith. Smith himself conceded the point in his debut column with an amusing anecdote about trying to hire Times publisher AG Sulzberger (then a mere editor) to Buzzfeed, only to end up writing for Sulzberger years later. Let’s just say the org chart is now a bit flipped.

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