When the Internet shifted from an isolated network of computer scientists into a genuine mass medium, traditional media companies knew they wanted in on the action. But as Motavalli, who created the New York Post's Internet beat, reveals, they wound up making the same mistakes they'd made when home video and cable TV hit the market, conceding too much early ground to innovators, then scrambling desperately to catch up. The book might more accurately be subtitled "How Time Warner Lost Billions and Its Autonomy in the Battle for the Internet," as more than half the book depicts the conglomerate's bungled attempts to launch an online presence and the missteps in its business relationships with AOL that set up the Internet company's dominant position in their 2000 "merger." This material would make a solid book on its own, perfectly illustrating the era's dysfunctional business model: "Workers on the Web side of a media outlet would work in what became splendid isolation, basically autonomous, as those picked to oversee them slowly began to realize that they never would figure out exactly what the Internet guys were doing in their cubicles." But Motavalli pads the account with stories from other media companies, big and small, including several where he once served as a consultant (such as Hachette Filipacchi, which is apparently included so the author can talk about John F. Kennedy Jr. and George). These additional anecdotes are an amplification rather than a distraction, however, as they do nothing to undermine his fundamentally sound grasp on the new media phenomenon.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.