Headed toward a less democratized mass media?

by Rebecca Lang

Our generation has seen an unprecedented fading of the split between high and low culture.Trends like Alexander McQueen designing for Target are a testiment to that. One of the main reasons this has occured is that so many people now have access to media, and the literature and art that come with it. Anyone can read The New York Times for free online and efforts like Project Gutenberg provide countless classic texts for anyone to read.

However, things might be about to change. According to a recent article in Advertising Age, many media outlets may soon need to charge for their content. Because traditional advertising is collapsing due to the switch to online media and the invention of technology like TiVo, the media industry is lacking a business model to continue to provide free media funded by advertising while switching over to primarily online content. This could mean that NYT.com will suddenly need to charge a monthly or yearly fee while prices for magazines and other media are raised as well. One unfortunate implication of that trend could be that culture will settle back into its divided spheres of high and low. The haves will still be able to afford to read the best newspapers while the have-nots will be closed out.

Here’s to hoping for a quick discovery of a way for the best media to cash in on online advertising.