It might just be me, but the annual MediaGuardian 100 – just published – provides a lovely insight into the many ways TV touches upon our different media and various parts of our media lives. It is an elegant – albeit accidental – exposition of convergence and shows how TV is the strong and consistent thread running through almost every aspect of the media landscape.
The set-up for the list betrays a lingering – though thankfully declining – propensity to play ‘old’ or ‘traditional’ media off against ‘new’ or ‘digital’ media. The front page introduces the 100 (which comes with a heavy disclaimer on how it was chosen) by saying:
“Back in the heady days of 2001, [the list] was topped by big broadcasters, AOL and someone called Gordon Brown. How things change…This year, more than ever, digital dominates, with the rise of social media bringing new challenges to traditional businesses. Will newspaper bosses ever dominate the lists again?”
Now I can’t answer that last question, and I suspect the answer is no-one really knows. But the direction of travel seems to be most definitely from text to audio-visual, whatever technology or platform you’re looking at.
A Thinkbox interpretation of how TV (an almost entirely digital and very social medium) figures within the top 10 alone will, I’m sure, convince you that TV is truly where it’s at.
Here is the top 10:
1. Steve Jobs, Apple: makes flat devices with screens that let you watch more TV; TV on the bus, TV at work. If he could make faded jeans and black roll necks with screens on, I’m sure he would.
2. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google: search is hugely driven by TV programmes and ads. Joined the TV business by buying YouTube, a recent convert to ‘proper’ professional TV, making it another TV platform. Recently announced the coming of Google TV.
3. Mark Thompson, BBC: works for a company that makes some of the best TV in the world, and a pioneer of on-demand TV with iPlayer
4. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp: the Daddy of pay TV. Trying to buy all of Sky. MediaGuardian says he is ‘betting the future on television’
5. Evan Williams, Twitter: nothing gives a better window into how TV’s shared ‘virtual sofa’ encourages real time debate and chatter than Twitter. It would be a lot quieter without TV
6. Simon Cowell: fronts and owns some of the biggest TV shows in the UK (and isn’t exactly small on US TV)
7. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook: owner of the home to countless TV programme and advertising fan pages and conversations. Facebook without TV would be a less exciting, and visited, place.
8. James Murdoch, News Corp and BSkyB: chairman of a major UK TV company
9. Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary: obviously will have more than a passing interest in all things TV, especially how it is funded
10. Archie Norman, ITV: chairman of the largest commercial UK TV channel group
And we need not stop at the top 10 (at 11 is Martin Sorrell, who makes a fair bit of money from commercial TV; at 12 is Jay Hunt, controller of BBC1…).
Obviously, even I might struggle to see the TV-ness of some of the people in the 100 (Clay Shirky, [no. 93], for example – although he was only too happy to use TV interviews to plug his new book, on sale at all good bookshops priced at £20 – or you can get the gist for free here).
But my point is that, although this blog is an obviously TV-centric way of looking at it (radio and newspapers could have a go too), I’d suggest it is as valid – if not more so – as banging on endlessly about global ‘digital’ technologists. The list should be at least as much about the people who make the content, professional or not, that makes digital platforms, broadcast and online, worth visiting.
Read more on TV weaves through the MediaGuardian 100…