You Tell Us

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This is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore Watching Television for KCRW, and asking you respectfully to please clam up for the next four minutes. And pay attention. I mean unless you're on your cell phone right now or screaming at the kids in the backseat or busy ordering a grande mocha frappuccino -- in which case, hey, I'm cool just being background noise.

Otherwise, consider this humble request that together, here and now, we re-explore conventional media roles (I talk, you listen) as a hedge against the growing participatory media free-for-all. I'm proposing that all you lovely listeners/readers-and-viewers take this baby step in resisting the urge to treat what you hear, read and watch as little more than a warm-up for your own public declarations on blogs, talk-back segments, YouTube videos and countless other interactive forums.

I remember a newspaper I used to work for went crazy soliciting input from its readership on every aspect of our mission as an information source. Some of us reporters decided that, with this kind of rampant reader outreach, the paper should adopt the slogan, "You Tell Us!"

Sure, it's a good idea to invite comment from your customer base and from the public at large -- like those bumper stickers on trucks that say "How's My Driving?"

But no trucking company would let you climb into the cab and borrow the wheel just because you want to, and maybe have an opinion on where the truck should go.

This is all a control issue... and information technology is giving the audience more and more suggestion of control.

Of course, it can be bracing. As a media consumer, I was thrilled to get my first VCR and feel unshackled from the programming grid laid down by the networks. Now, a quarter-century later, an explosion of newly liberating gadgetry gives us even more power over the media we embrace. Call this the Media Decade, or, for short, the Me Decade. (I'd say Tom Wolfe jumped the gun by more than 30 years.)

Circa 1982, I and a fellow disciple of Tom Wolfe used to kid around about how we could cater to the public's self-obsession as described so well in his "Me Decade" essay. Our crowning concept: Me magazine, a publication geared to an audience of one, which, accordingly, would greet that reader with the sight of him or her reflected on its shiny foil cover.

Well, last month, Time magazine finally went and did what we were joking about. For its Person of the Year issue, Time singled out me... I mean, you... I mean, all of us... and certified our status on its Mylar-mirrored cover that made me look as warped as I felt to be the target of such brazen pandering.

"You -- Yes, You -- Control the Information Age," Time declared. Which means you will keep glomming onto the gadgetry and content, the programs and platforms that advance your personal agenda. In this new age, "The customer is always right" ... same as it ever was. But entitlement doesn't imply profundity. Not when your barrier to entry as a content provider has sunk beneath any obligation that you have something to say.

Oh, you do have something worth sharing? Well, claim your media platform and speak your piece!

But otherwise... why not relax? Nurse your frappuccino. Yack on your cell. Just go about your business.

And by that, I mean your business.

Not mine.

Watching television for KCRW and saying, "See you on YouTube," this is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore.