Now I Understand the Future of News.

Been wondering about whether you completely understand the nature of the competition between The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal? This video from Next Media, the Taiwanese company behind that computer animation of Tiger Woods fighting with his wife that swept the Internet a few months ago, should clear it up. Or maybe not:

My favorite part has to be the dance-off, which may or may not be a homage to the Jets and the Sharks in "West Side Story." Before you start ridiculing Next Media for their bizarre editorial choices, surrealistic visual metaphors, nonexistent commitment to accuracy, and crude animations, check out this article from Wired magazine on the company, which explains the magnitude of what they accomplish:

[Company cheif Jimmy] Lai didn't know much about animation, but he knew a lot about assembly lines—he made his first fortune in the garment industry. After two years of trial and error, experimenting with various technologies and seeing exactly how many corners it was possible to cut, Lai set up a sort of un-Pixar, an offshore animation factory with a staff of 200 that could storyboard, model, motion-capture, and animate a clip in about the time it takes to watch Toy Story 3... 

Within nine months of ramping up its CG assembly line, NMA created more than 4,000 videos. Employees have completely internalized their boss's love of sensationalism. "I've told them that they go too far sometimes," Lai says, referring to clips depicting rape and child abuse. (The latter resulted in a $30,000 fine and a rebuke from Taiwan’s National Communications Commission.) But Lai waves his hand as if to dismiss all the criticism. He gazes through the glass wall of his office, taking in a sea of people hard at work. "When you are an Apple newsman, you know that you need to be on the edge and make a splash," he says. "Readers want things to be less subtle. You need to overstep."

Maybe that's the problem with our media outlets, stuck as they are in the 20th century -- not enough overstepping.

-- Paul Waldman

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