Our American Discourse, Ep. 24: Can You Hear Us Shouting into the Void? Here’s How We Do It…and Why

You have a choice. Will you listen to this podcast? Or will you choose one of the other millions of media sources clamoring for your attention? Your brain cells are weighing all sorts of factors, but it’s not easy. The world is increasingly trying to manipulate them, to overwhelm them, and “Our American Discourse” is smack in the middle of this tug-of-war. You want to know how we compete for your time? Ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes? Today, you can find out.

In this episode, Jonathan Schwartz explains how we do what we do every time we broadcast over your smartphone—and how we fight the growing distractions and distortions that loom over the media landscape.

Continue reading “Our American Discourse, Ep. 24: Can You Hear Us Shouting into the Void? Here’s How We Do It…and Why”

Find the Hat

by Norman Horowitz

“Shorty” was scouting locations for the production of Gone with the Wind. He stood up on the back of a moving pickup truck, and the wind blew off his hat. At the first opportunity, he purchased a new hat to protect his bald head from the sun.

Shorty filed his detailed expense report for, shall we say, $4,385 and included $6 for his hat. His report was rejected because of the $6 he had spent for the hat, and he was asked to resubmit the expense report without the hat, which he did.

Supposedly, he submitted a report for the same amount with the admonition: “I dare you to find the hat.”

Many media managers were and are obsessed by “finding the hats.” I have worked for a few of them. While they were doing this, Rupert Murdoch was out expanding and diversifying his business.

I still remember my first senior management meeting with the head of Polygram North America. The company had just lost $100 million, and the only subject discussed was whether we were all willing to fly Business Class instead of First Class. Nothing else.

Later on, I arranged for the Polygram president to meet with very senior people at three major companies to discuss the formation of a joint venture entertainment company. The morning of the scheduled meeting, my Polygram president asked me to postpone the meeting because he needed to attend a previously unscheduled budget meeting. The joint venture meeting never happened.

For many managers, their operating goal is to doggedly “find the hat” rather than to expand their business activity.

There is a joke about a board meeting of The Really Huge Company: There were two items on the agenda. One concerned the multibillion-dollar investment in nuclear energy, and the discussion concerning it took 3 minutes. The second item was if they were going to continue providing free coffee to their administrative staff, which took over an hour.

The conclusion is that no one knew anything about nuclear energy yet everyone knew about coffee.

I continue to ask myself how an Australian media person like Rupert Murdoch was able to create a media mega-company while the majority of the Hollywood establishment sat around and waited for someone to come along and buy them.

Life Is Not the Game of Monopoly

by Norman Horowitz

Back when I played Monopoly, I remember games when I was the last remaining opponent and I would land on “Boardwalk,” where there was a hotel. But the rent was more then I had, and the game would be over. I was broke and had lost the game.

The American attitude to life seems to be that so many want to win as they would in Monopoly, and they won’t be satisfied until they have aggregated all the money in the game — that is, until everyone else is broke.

We have organized the greatest concentration of wealth since we organized our country. We have also created the greatest concentration of worldwide media power during the same time frame.   Continue reading “Life Is Not the Game of Monopoly”