The Salinger Syndrome: Conventional Media and the 'Net

Marc Demarest

June 1997


To my knowledge, in the American mass media you cannot find a single socialist journalist, not a single syndicated political columnist who is a socialist....Basically, there are two reasons for this. First, there is the remarkable ideological homogeneity of the American intelligensia in general, who rarely depart from one of the variants of state capitalistic ideology (liberal or conservative), a fact which itself calls for explanation. The second is that the mass media are capitalist institutions.

Noam Chomsky, "Politics" in Language and Responsibility (1977).

The news today is that the news is free.

At some unremembered, but imaginable, point in our collective past, the news was free, because it was only gossip: only what one person told another as they assembled at whatever points the society of which they were part had earmarked for the exchange of such home-truths, such half-lies, such news.

As late as the end of the 1700s, Charles MacKay tells us in his Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, news was little more grounded than gossip, and the fortunes of the early joint-stock companies MacKay chronicles (as well as the governments that chartered many of those companies) rose and fell on the word on the street.

How gossip, how the word-of-mouth became the word-of-the-Law, how newspapers and later television journalism became professions with codes of conduct and roles and positions and all the other accoutrements of a profession, has I am sure been adequately covered elsewhere.

The Salinger Syndrome: Traditional Media Contemplating The 'Net

1. source of information 2. source of destablizing, dangerous influence 3. source of confusion

The Role Of The Traditional Media In Western Culture

1. filter 2. arbiter 3. guarantor

The Transitional Failure: Slate, Nando and the Clipping Service

1. slate -- why packaging fails 2. nando -- complexity 3, clipping services -- rechunking the world

Can Traditional Media Survive The 'Net?

1. filter 2. arbiter 3. guarantor

Last updated on 06-22-97 by Marc Demarest (

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