Michael Crichton’s 1993 Prediction of Mass-Media Extinction Now Looks on Target

June 1st, 2008

More credit where credit is due: I was alerted to this provocative

May 2008 column on Slate.com by

Bob Sacks in his Heard on the Web —

Media Intelligence newsletter.

Back in the prehistoric era, i.e. 1993, mega-bestselling

author Michael Crichton wrote an article for Wired magazine called Mediasaurus.

In the article he made several predictions, expanding from the premise stated

in his first paragraph, “To my mind, it is likely that what we now understand

as the mass media will be gone within ten years. Vanished, without a trace.”

Jack Shafer, Slate‘s “editor at large,” revisits those

predictions with Crichton, as well as referencing his earlier visit with Crichton in the same

subject in 2002. When challenged that as of 2002 his predictions appeared still

far from accurate, Crichton responded: “assume that nobody can predict the

future well. But in this particular case, I doubt I’m wrong; it’s just too


Crichton complains bitterly (as many other commentators

have noted) that the decline of newspapers and television are not simply

because of the Web alternative, but also the ever-decreasing quality of those


Shafer notes Crichton’s belief that “it will take a media

visionary, somebody like Ted Turner — to create the high-quality information

service he foresaw in his 1993 essay. In addition to building the service, the

visionary will also have to convince news consumers that they need it.”