Paul Levinson on Marshall McLuhan


Paul Levinson, whose writings on Marshall McLuhan’s ideas have frequently been re-published on this blog, continues to be influenced by the Canadian media prophet and to apply McLuhan’s insights and percepts to the contemporary media ecology. Recently he enlisted McLuhan to comment on a rare New York Times editorial about the need for gun control in America, which commanded a prime position on the front page of the venerable newspaper. 

 Sunday, December 6, 2015 
The Front-Page Editorial in The New York Times

I was just interviewed on “Breakfast,” New Zealand’s top morning radio program, about the context and impact of The New York Times‘ front-page editorial – first since 1920 – urging gun control.

Marshall McLuhan, as his work does so often in our age, captured the importance of the front page of a newspaper when he observed, in The Mechanical Bride in 1951, that you can get a sense of the world just by looking at the front page, as if it were a picture, before and without even reading any of the content.  The front page in effect is a figurative landscape of what’s going on, which can be grasped at a glance.

The content of the editorial – which the layout calls such justifiably dramatic attention to – is crucial.   I would like to see, as starters, the government start a buy-out program of all semi-automatic weapons, paying twice their purchase price, after declaring these weapons illegal.  Yes, terrorists and psychopaths can still do plenty of damage with hand-guns and knives, but getting rid of a semi-automatic killing machines would be a good way to save some lives.

So the content of the editorial matters, big time.  But placing it on the front page was a masterstroke. Just glancing at the front page shows that there is a sombre, stark importance to what the words are saying.

Lots has been written, including by me, about how paper newspapers are fading away.  But anything on paper still has advantages not seen on any screen, especially the little ones on our phones. Newspapers left on tables and desks can be seen by anyone who passes by.  The editorial on the front page of a newspaper is thus an intrinsically powerful public statement.

It’s good to see The New York Times leading the fight on finally getting something done to limit the deaths by guns which are the scourge of this country. Republished from Paul Levinson’s Infinite Regress blog at


Paul Levinson provides the following YouTube videos of lectures and interviews, some of which are about Marshall McLuhan specifically and all of which refer to McLuhan or his ideas which are applied to understanding new media.


Paul Levinson Keynote Address: McLuhan 50 Years after Understanding Media

Marshall McLuhan: Then and Now

Marshall McLuhan at 100: Media Expert Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson talks about Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan

Transmedia transnational video journalism: Paul Levinson at TEDxSaintPetersUniversity

Paul Levinson interviewed in Second Life about media evolution

Paul Levinson talks about the Evolution of Media at World Trade Center in 1997

Paul Levinson – Seminário Internacional de Comunicação – Famecos PUCRS

Paul Levinson PhD HD Original air dare 07-15-14

Apture and Scribd opens up document content with a new wave of semantic technology

Paul Levinson PhD- Air date: 06-21-99

  Media professor/expert Paul Levinson on new media influence

Zen of Teaching Interview: Paul Levinson

Occupy Wall Street Panel Discussion

WET002 Paul Levinson

GM Podcast: Paul Levinson on McLuhan and Media

Paul Levinson PhD – Air date:- 01-05–98

About Facebook – Paul Levinson – McLuhan Galaxy


These can be found on YouTube at .

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