This year’s “Shoot Yourself In the Foot” award goes to News Corp’s Peter Chernin:

Chernin is a big believer in user-generated content. News Corp.’s MySpace is thriving. But he does not believe that there’s a vast backlog of great unmade TV shows and movies that cannot connect with audiences because of bottlenecks in distribution. To the contrary, he and the other creative executives at Fox argue that the digital revolution will increase the value of high-quality, professional, branded content.

“If you don’t have incredibly dynamic, exciting, frankly great content, you are toast,” Chernin says. “In this world of infinite choice, mediocrity is finished.”

So MySpace, with its endlessly bland user-generated contentm is “thriving,” but the “digital revolution will increase the value of high-quality, professional, branded content.”

Hard to have that cake and eat it too, huh, Pete? Is the future of content “professional” or “user-generated”? Well, which is it?

Wait! Just got a call from Pete — he says it’s whatever News Corp investors need it to be. And he says that he’s got to be careful not to kill the goose:

It bears noting that MySpace is only a small part of the News Corp. empire, yet the company’s television, movie, and other media properties aren’t doing too shabbily, either. The other sectors may not have the sex appeal of MySpace, but they are generating gobs of cash — more than $2 billion so far this year — and that inflow is no doubt funding numerous initiatives that aim to meld the content platforms together.

Perhaps News Corp should think about paying of some MySpace’s 30 billion page views per month back to investors as a dividend — they could really take that to the bank!

I suppose “mediocrity” is in the eye of the beholder. For MySpace users, their friends are dishing up content that holds their attention more than that “professional” slop on TV (especially Fox).

How about this for a prediction: Media executive HYPE is finished.