Picture 2

Picture 2

Feb 14, 2017

The Internet is Killing the Mainstream Media

  • I think the train wreck of the 2016 election is the result of a shift in medium from broadcast TV to internet.  Other medium shifts in history were shifts from manuscripts to printing, from printing to broadcast radio and from broadcast radio to broadcast TV.  The shift to the internet from broadcast TV has removed all of the barriers to entry in news and commentary.  This website is an example of how anybody can be a pundit now.  The broadcast networks and, to a lesser extent, the big national daily newspapers, have lost their gate keeper oligopoly.   They used to be able to control what was "news" and what wasn't.  With the onset of the internet, circulation or broadcast audience no longer is fixed by location or logistics.   Your writing is available to anybody on the net, world wide.

    The reaction of the former gate keepers to their loss of power has been pretty poor.  It could be characterized as "more cowbell," from the Saturday Night Live Christopher Walken skit.  They have tried to bend the news even further than they used to, so they can prove to themselves that they still have the power, and so that they can push political outcomes in the direction they prefer.  It didn't work in 2016.

    After the election, when their scam was known to have failed, the TV networks and big daily newspapers started talking about the unreliability of "fake news" in order to reclaim some of their lost market share and lost political influence.  It backfired when they all started reporting on a dossier that contained demonstrably false "facts."  My favorite was that the dossier said Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, had met Russian agents in Prague.  That fell apart when Michael Cohen showed he had never been to Prague in his life.

    The traditional mainstream media, or what I call the Pravda Press, is struggling with a loss of influence and a failing business model at the same time.  I think the two are interrelated.  There's only one network, FOX and only one national daily newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, that take a more or less Republican editorial position on news.  Everyone else is competing for the progressive half of the country.  It's really crowded on the left, and there just aren't enough chairs over there when the music stops for all of the Pravda Press to take a seat.

    The internet is providing free news on demand.  The expense of offering an internet news article or editorial is very low.  Services like Al Monitor that use local people to report foreign news are beating out competitors that have to pay for foreign news bureaus or traveling reporters.  Competition from low overhead internet sites is killing the high overhead broadcast TV and radio networks and the national daily newspapers.  Their behavior is likely to get more erratic as their death throes continue.

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