Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Growth of A Media Monster

As I read Isaiah Wilner's biography of TIME magazine founder Briton Hadden, The Man Time Forgot, and followed it up with Alec Klein's recounting of the tempestuous merger of America Online and Time Warner, Stealing Time, it was fascinating to compare wher Time Inc. began and what it has become some nine decades hence.
Wilkins' book tells the story of Briton Hadden's vision of creating a new type of magazine that would make the news accessible to the masses, and his efforts, with partner Henry R. Luce, to bring that dream into reality despite much skepticism from investors and the journalistic establishment, and the struggles to keep the magazine alive during its early months. Klein, on the other hand, presents Time Warner as the giant, globe spanning media conglomerate that it would become, with its fingers in many pies, including not just magazines, but also movies studios, record companies, book publishers, TV stations and cable networks, even comic book publishing, and much, much, much more.
To give you an idea of how huge Hadden and Luce's company had become by the beginning of the twenty-first century, peruse following listing of Time Warner holdings proffered by Eric Alterman's 2003 book What Liberal Media?:
"Consider the following: When AOL took over Time Warner, it also tooks over: Warner Brothers Pictures, Morgan Creek, New Regency, Warner Brothers Animation, a partial stake in Savoy Pictures, Little Brown & Co., Bullfinch, Back Bay, Time-Life Books, Oxmoor House, Sunset Books, Warner Books, the Book-of-the-Month Club, Warner/Chappell Music, Atlantic Records, Warner Audio Books, Elektra, Warner Brothers Records, Time-Life Music, Columbia House, a 40 percent stake in Seattle's Sub-Pop records, Time magazine, Fortune, Life, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, People, Entertainment Weekly, Money, In Style, Martha Stewart Living, Sunset, Asia Week, Parenting, Weight Watchers, Cooking Light, DC Comics, 49 percent of the Six Flags theme parks, Movie World and Warner Brothers parks, HBO, Cinemax, Warner Brothers Television, partial ownership of Comedy Central, E!. Black Entertainment Television, Court TV, the Sega Channel, the Home Shopping Network, the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks, World Championship Wrestling, Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, New Line Cinema, Fine Line Cinema,Turner Classic Movies, Turner Pictures, Castle Rock Productions, CNN, CNN Headline News, CNN International, CNN/SI, CNN Airport Network, CNNfi, CNN radio, TNT, WTBS, and the Cartoon Network." (WHEW!)
Naturally, operating in a time before the emergence of true mass media, when movies and radio were in their developmental phase, Hadden and Luce could not have foreseen or even imagined the power, reach and influence their upstart little magazine company would someday wield.

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