The GOOD 100: Creative Freedom in Corporate Media

Old-media companies are no longer the cultural gatekeepers they once were.

The Grey Lady Lets Her Hair Down

Old-media companies are no longer the cultural gatekeepers they once were. Shrinking production costs and effortless distribution of new media have eroded their monopoly on great content. As feisty start-ups and armchair auteurs crowd the landscape, these publishing bulwarks are being forced to take more risks. Here are some of our favorite successful shots in the dark.

The New York TimesThe otherwise-conservative editors at The New York Times send the illustrator and amateur historian Maira Kalman (1) to places like the Supreme Court, Monticello, and the Pentagon with nothing more than a set of watercolors. These same people let the artist Christoph Niemann (2) explore, among other things, his nostalgia for New York City through the medium of LEGOs.

NickelodeonYo Gabba Gabba! (3) is a kids' TV show (in the same way that WALL-E is a kids' movie) with which Nickelodeon-read: Viacom-stretches the limits of creativity and imagination. Regular segments include beat-boxing with Biz Markie, drawing lessons with Mark Mothersbaugh, and a bit of craziness called Dancey Dance Time.

Cartoon NetworkThe clinically adventurous folks at Cartoon Network (parent company: Turner Broadcasting) let the people behind the Adult Swim program block put absurdist, boundary-pushing shows on the air like Tim and Eric, Awesome Show, Great Job(4)!

Photos: 1. Maira Kalman; 2. Christoph Niemann; 3. Ben Clark courtesy of Wildbrain; 4. Mike Piscitelli