Putting aside the question of whether or not anyone is actually surprised that Ricky Martin is gay, the story behind the story is how he made the announcement. Unlike Ellen, Clay Aiken, and others, Martin did not use the mainstream media, but instead posted on his blog.
The reason, as explained in this New York Times article, was to better control the message.
I’m completely fascinated by the way the internet’s many publishing platforms (blogs, Twitter, Facebook) have completely transformed the media landscape in the last several years. It actually seems to be that the changes become more profound every 18 to 24 months.
But for all that change I think it’s overly simplistic to say that mainstream media is dead. Yes, Ricky Martin chose to bypass all that and frame his story his way. But, as the article notes, Adam Lambert chose a different route. While Ricky Martin is an international superstar (albeit out of the limelight of late), Adam Lambert is popular with millions of “American Idol” fans, but less well-known outside that bubble. He spent the entire Idol season keeping mum as everyone played “Is he or isn’t he?” He chose to reveal the answer in Rolling Stone. Because, well duh, it’s Rolling Stone.
I think Big Media will live on. Some that are now in that camp will go away (bye-bye Gourmet, at least in print) and new properties will join (hello TMZ, Huffington Post, Politico.com and many, many more). But the basic concept — big, well-known publications (using “publication” very generically) with a huge audiences will continue to have an outsize influence on American life.
I think the big three unanswered questions are:
- What will those properties be?
- Who will run them?
- How will they be different from the current mainstream media?