Lessons of Leno: Why the Future Failed for NBC.
NBC's fiasco shows how the media are stuck between a dying old model and a yet-to-be-invented new one
Many in the denomination are stuck between a dying old model and a yet-to-be-invented new one as well.
Mr. Poniewozik observes that The Jay Leno Show in prime-time was exactly the wrong solution for NBC's problems. Just like tinkering with a bureaucracy that is expensive and fails to equip its congregations for a postmodern church is the wrong solution for the future Presbyterian church.
He points out that NBC still has to operate in the old system - one that depends on affiliates and big advertising money. He says, "it depends on pleasing an audience used to ER and Law & Order."
The PC(USA) currently operates in an old system - one that depends on presbyteries (and synods) that require big money. The church depends on pleasing an audience used to Robert's Rules of Order, overtures, motions, and committees to manage committees.
NBC is losing its audience to cable, DVRs, and watching for free online. And every adjustment it makes to serve this audience it risks losing people who like the old, expensive model. He writes, "Broadcast TV once thrived by pitching a big tent. But now the various poles of that tent --Jay fans, Conan fans, et cetera. - don't particularly want to share the same campsite, and they no longer have to."
Isn't that true of our church? The PC(USA) once thrived by pitching a big tent. But as people decide not so share the campsite they are leaving in ever increasing numbers. Most alarmingly, our young leaders are more frequently leaving Presbyterian colleges and seminaries choosing to NOT be in the PC(USA). One pastor under 40 told me, "My next call may not be Presbyterian. Doesn't really matter to me."
Mr. Poniewozik points out a dilemma shared by NBC, the New York Times, and the PC(USA). As the money for these organizations dries up, the quality goes down. Quality dramas are replaced by reality shows, the weekday paper is riddled with typos, and the most talented preachers and teachers are disengaged from the PC(USA) system (how many people under 40 do you see at Presbytery or General Assembly?). But why should people pay for a product that disappoints? They won't. People do not watch a lame show, read a typo riddle paper, or participate in a church determined to serve a culture and time that does not exist anymore just to help "the parent company save on payroll."
"..but the basics of TV aren't going to revert back to the flush 20th century days." And the world is not going to revert back to the 1950's when the mainline church knew how to do church.
If NBC needs to focus on inventing TV's next business plan so it can be one of the "networks left standing when the old plan craps out," says Mr. Poniewozik.
PGF is dedicating to inventing our church's next mission plan so it will be the fellowship left standing when the current system craps out.
PGF is a fellowship of churches and individuals committed to the misseo dei, the mission of God. We are excited to partner with him on his mission, even if that means leaving the old model behind.
TV isn't ending anymore than the Presbyterian church is ending. But both need to spend time on inventing the next business plan because it is simple tooth-and-claw survival until then.