NEW YORK — The elitism ran thick in Time Warner headquarters this morning. Executives from Warner Bros., People.com, TMZ.com, Entertainment Weekly and Epic Records gathered to kick around the great questions that the democratic Web is posing to autocratic media.
It’s a coarse abbreviation to say that their response was simply that the top-down model is still very much in effect, but I’m going to stick with it for our purposes here (for a fuller account of their discussion click [here](/webcontent/article.php/3751226/The+Web+and+Media+Distribution+Whats+Changed.htm)).
The most colorful moment of the panel came when a self-identified “IT guru” asked the panelists how they planned to adapt their new models of marketing to the older generation.
“I deal with a lot of people who are interested in the technology but find it inaccessible. The biggest problem is it’s very complicated. And there’s a generational gap,” he said. An unspecified older generation “doesn’t get Twitter,” and while they might be able to wrap their understanding paw around a cable remote, DVRs and streaming video are a “mystery wrapped in an enigma.” So how do you reach these aging consumers?
The panelists didn’t get a chance to answer.
“We’re going to die soon, they don’t care,” an audience member called out. Peels of laughter shot around the theater. “The people they want to sell stuff to are not me. You’re talking about lounge acts. This is the main show.”
Oh. Is that so?
“I don’t know if anyone on stage can top that.” — Scott Donaton — panel moderator and Publisher, Entertainment Weekly
“I’m glad you said it and not me.” — Gillian Sheldon, Supervising Producer, TMZ
“Oh my god, I love it.” — Charlie Walk, President, Epic Records
“We’ll leave that as the answer.” — Donaton
A serious question that got a flippant answer. And that answer was from an audience member; no panelist wanted to touch the issue. Perhaps amid the boisterous mood of the room, no clear-minded address of that important issue — whether an older generation will ever relate to new media, or if the media industry will simply chalk them up as a collateral loss in the digital arena — could be found. Maybe outside that room, the panelists would have something more to say on the subject. Maybe, and I hope so.