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February 24, 2009

Nick Denton, dinosaurs & Aztec blood lust

By Peter Kirwan MM blog

I love reading Nick Denton’s apocalyptic musings.

When he discusses the future of media, the FT hack turned blog publisher sounds a bit like an acolyte of the blood-thirsty Aztec god Huitzilopochtli, who was reputedly placated with 80,000 human sacrifices during the reconsecration of The Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487.

Judge for yourself: 

The advertising analysts haven’t caught up with the economists, and the economists haven’t anticipated next year’s plunge.

The economy will perform much worse than people think and, because advertising is so volatile, it’s reasonable to assume it will perform much, much worse…

This economic downturn is an extinction-level event. It will be bad for the dinosaurs — but great for any mammals that survive.

So extreme have Denton’s fears become that Jill Abramson, the managing editor of the New York Times, recently felt compelled to respond with this rallying cry, delivered in front of an audience of students from New York University:

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Call newspapers dinosaurs if you like, but remember that dinosaurs roamed the Earth for millions of years.

Er, well, it’s a point of view, I suppose.

But as Simon Dumenco writes in Advertising Age: “I don’t remember reading about dinosaurs having to borrow, at 14% interest, hundreds of millions from a dubious Mexican billionaire to meet their debt obligations.” Quite.

Then again, Dumenco himself appears to be as gripped by depression as Denton. In the same column, the Ad Age columnist deploys psychobabble against the dying of the light:

So I turn to you, beloved reader, at this existential moment — this mass identity crisis for tens of thousands of media and marketing workers — and ask: Who are you?

If you’re still in it — still fighting the good fight — well, why? How do you rethink or redefine your personal reality, not only in a major downturn but in the midst of seismic shifts that conspire to rob you of the basis for your professional identity?

And if you’ve got a Plan B, does it still allow you to be who you thought you were?

Now you might think that this is parody. But I don’t think it’s intended as such. In the Big Apple, where talking cure solve everything, things really do seem to be unwinding rapidly. . .

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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