Thursday, February 18, 2010

New New Media in Old Media

Something that I found to be interesting in Levinson's New New Media is the way old media has referenced new new media in recent years. He made a mention of how "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" made reference to both bloggers and Facebook and how "Big Love" mentioned Wikipedia in one episode. I thought this was an interesting point because after reading it I instantly thought of more examples of old media making use of new new media. The first thing that immediately came to mind was "The Office" (yes, I know I reference that show frequently on here). That site makes a great deal of (mostly intentionally outdated) pop culture references, with a very large percentage of the material coming from YouTube videos seen by Steve Carrell's character. Examples that immediately come to mind are the wedding episode that incorporated the viral wedding video featuring a Chris Brown song (of which I had no idea about before this episode), parkour ("the internet sensation of 2004" as pointed out by John Krasinski's character), and Steve Carrell dressing up one of the dancers from the "Dick in the Box" video (by the way, am I the only one that found the irony of a scholarly text discussing this video amusing?). In older episodes Steve Carrell noted that he didn't work for three days when he first discovered YouTube.

Another show that quickly came to mind is "South Park," which creates social commentary similar to that of "The Office." I immediately recalled the episode that parodied "24," another old media example, but referenced seemingly every single form of new new media around at the time. The characters use a number of websites to try to foil a terrorist plot, including sites like Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Wikipedia, dating sites, and plenty of other examples. There was also the episode that was filmed in the form of "World of Warcraft," which could possibly be considered as a form of new new media.

In the YouTube chapter, Levinson remarked that old media creates a lot of the content on new new media. But there can also be a reciprocal relationship as well. I remember last fall when Fox 5 anchor Ernie Anastos made an obscene remark on a nightly newscast. The incident went largely unnoticed...until it emerged on YouTube. The video went viral and found its way onto Facebook and other websites, which in turn forced Anastos to apologize on air, affecting old media. This incident was covered in both old and new media sources, as it received mention in newspapers as well as internet sites. Sure, this is by no means a huge story (in fact I thought it was pretty funny myself), it shows how the media, whether old, new, or new new, can all affect each other and work together at times to set the agenda. Would there have been any story about this exchange between Anastos and the weather man had it not appeared on YouTube? Probably not. Maybe a call or two to the FCC by an angry viewer - do people still do that? But otherwise it would have died pretty quickly. But instead the video found itself all over the internet, created a number of stories about Anastos, and even brought up his past on-air slip-ups. Even if the old media may not respect new new media just yet, it has definitely embraced it as a source of content.


  1. Old media is being forced in a sense to keep up with new media, and now new new media.

    An example would be a cable news network. They are integrating new new media into their broadcasts- with instant "tweeter" comments that are put on live TV, Facebook, and their use of YouTube. The new new media seems to be in control of older media right now. It is hard not to find any news source now that doesn't have its own Twitter account.

  2. Great points all around, and yes, The Office has been especially new media savvy. Typically, the older media will try to use the new media to stay relevant, but will also try to cut them down in their own defense.