Paramount Erases Decades of Pop Culture History With MTV Website Deletion

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published


It’s a depressing day for Gen X, as Paramount elected to literally erase 20 years of archives from the MTV website, thus voiding an immensity of cultural and musical history. The move shocked the music and journalistic communities.  To perhaps add insult to injury, the space previously occupied by MTV’s website is now dedicated to a placeholder site only featuring content about reality TV. 

Music And Journalism

A cultural phenomenon for several decades, MTV burst onto the broadcasting scene as a breakthrough: a platform where music and news, entertainment and journalism, converged. This mixture proved highly successful, especially in the early 90s, at the height of the grunge era in pop music. 

Music journalism rivaled the stream of music videos on the network. Although Paramount punted its archives into oblivion, MTV News division was a central part of that early 90s ascendancy, evolving into a crucial voice in music, entertainment, and politics.

Generation X and Millennials remember the coverage by quintessential MTV journalists, Kurt Loder, Alison Stwart, and Serene Altschul. Their interviews and news broadcasts defined a generation, in addition to genuinely influencing political campaigns. 

The Death Of MTV News

The erasure of not only feels unprecedented, but it also puzzles the mind; what reason, many are asking, would Paramount have for erasing MTV’s website other than the desire to save money otherwise spent hosting it online? 

However, the curtains on MTV’s website are actually the second cancellation to depress fans of the network that launched Carson Daily as much as it did Britney Spears and boy bands.

Last year, MTV news was shuttered on the channel, reducing the network to a shell of its former self. The network had not finally completed its transformation to platform solely committed to reality TV.  

No One Knows What’s Going On

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A former writer, Kathy Landoli, voiced what must be widespread dismay, stating that corporate incompetence is also a factor behind Paramount’s deletion of MTV’s backlogs.

She pointed out that the musical articles were deleted only to be swapped with TV schedules—but TV schedules for titles no longer available for streaming via MTV. 

Landoli says the debacle comprises “proof that no one has any idea of what the hell they are doing right now.”

Work Disappeared

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Another writer affected by the news, Patrick Hosken, lamented how almost a decade of his dedicated work disappeared “without a trace.” Hosken added, “All because it didn’t fit some executives’ bottom lines.”

Another contributor to the website, freelancer Michell Clark, shared: “I don’t even have the words.”

A Few Things Were Saved

But so it goes in the profit-driven world of corporate acquisition, where sweeping deletion isn’t unheard of. For instance, before Paramount nixed the musical articles from MTV’s site, remember that Jared Kushner acquired the New York Observerafter which hundreds of articles vanished.

Thankfully, when it comes to preserving MTV’s legacy, it’s good to know a few writers managed to save a few articles on WaybackMachine. Unfortunately, other than that, most of the pop culture archive hosted on the site is gone without a trace.

It may not be a silver lining, but Paramount deleting so much MTV content nonetheless starkly reminds us of digital media’s inherently ephemeral nature: here one day, gone the next. 

Source: Showbiz411