Poor Ed Murrow
He must be spinning in his grave
IN 1958, Murrow, the most famous TV journalist of his day pretty much trashed his carrer. In a famous speech before the RTNDA, the radio and televisoin news director's association, Murrow decried how television had sold out to commercial interests.
His speech, still taught at journalism schools to this day (and why they bother, I have no idea), is known as the 'lights i a box speech'. People still quote it. I don't know why, but here it is, and you'll understand why I start with this in a moment:
"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.”
Some 60 years later, all I can say is 'oy!'.
Or poor us...
All of which bring me to Ryan
Ryan is the Ed Murrow of our time
Ryan is only 7 years old, but last year he was the number one income earner on YouTube, making $22 million - more than Ed Murrow earned his entire life.
Murrow earned his salary at CBS News by using the power of the medium to destroy Joseph McCarthy, defend US Army veterans and protect the rights of immigrant share croppers in Harvest of Shame. (This was before The Wall).
At CBS, Ed Murrow was paid $21,000 a year.
Ryan, (we don't know his last name), loves Legos. He loves to unbox toys. He is 7 years old.
When he was four, his mother started shooting videos of him playing with his toys and posting them on YouTube.
The videos took off.
His videos have aggregated billions of views
His viewers are 3 to 6 years old.. and of course, their parents, who are all too eager to please their 3 to 6 year olds buy buying the toys that Ryan promotes. Who needs advertising?
NBC did a big story on him. He deserves it
Earlier this year, Ryan went beyond the world of videos — putting his name and face on a collection of Ryan’s World toys that’s now being sold at Walmart, Target and on Amazon. The collection features products that Ryan loves to play with his and has shown his fans in his videos — including slime, putty, and Squishies.
Arguably the hottest products are his golden mystery eggs, which are typically sold out in stores and are commanding big bucks on eBay — up to several hundred dollars each.
According to Chris Williams, chief executive officer of Pocketwatch, which represents Ryan and helped broker his toy deal, the magic of Ryan lies in kids’ abilities to relate to him.
“They see themselves in Ryan in a way that I don't think they do with maybe fictional characters, or with stars who come from TV and film,” said Williams. “He’s just a regular kid.”
After Ed Murrow gave his famous speech at the RTNDA, his career was pretty much over.
He had fouled his own nest, TV execs cried.
Did not he understand that televison was fundamentally a business?
Murrow ended up running the Voice or America and dying at the age of 57, in 1965.
Now, those TV execs, or their heirs, are getting crushed by 7 year old Ryan and his gooey toys.
What comes around, goes around.
There's a certain ironic justice to all of this.
But where it ends, God only know.