new journalism and new world order
and the times they are a changing. let's make sure they do.
a basic dictum of microeconomics is that competition drives the price of a good or service down to the marginal cost of the marginal producer. many seem to disbelieve this because they see profit from many producers, but this is generally always because they have some form of pricing power or cost advantage that the marginal producer does not. under assumptions of “perfect competition” as laid out in econ 101, such advantages do not exist. but, obviously, these “perfect” conditions rarely exist in full form. in essence there are 5 requirements:
many sellers (no monopoly/oligopoly)
many buyers (no monopsony)
perfect information (about production capability and market participants)
free and costless entry and exit to markets
any market that even modestly approaches this will see a remorseless pushing of profits down to the marginal cost required to produce the good or service. prices will plummet and quality and variety will skyrocket as competition breeds competence in accordance with the implacable demands of consumer sovereignty.
the internet has been a massive disruptor in this regard by increasing information, breaking monopolies, allowing goods (especially information goods) to become FAR more specialized, and perhaps most of all by near eliminating the cost of entry.
and this is why mass journalism as an industry is essentially a structural zero.
it was never a good model. it was a model based on privilege and anti-competitive preferencing rooted in cost structures and licensure.
but more surely than video could ever have hoped to kill the radio star, social media has killed mass media.
there was, perhaps, a time when mass media could have adapted and changed its ways to find accord with and prosper under this new reality or perhaps there was not and this outcome was as inevitable as sunset, but whatever the case may be, the path media chose was a poor one and they have handled this about as badly and shortsightedly as they could have. and now it’s over for them. they will wallow in sub-mediocrity as all the best and brightest strike out alone to run their own shows. because they can.
it will be the most exacting of selectors:
only the people from which no one wants to hear will be left behind, because if people did want to hear from you, you’d hang up your own shingle and go to them directly. you’d be glen greenwald or russell brand, bari weiss or michael shellenberger, doomberg or heather cox richardson. there is room to be vast or to accrue a more modest niche as a notorious internet feline of questionable goodness. but no one is stopping you. you do not need permission. and you do not need capital. you just need to have something to say, a desire to say it, and people who want to hear it.
and that changes everything.
no longer does the first newspaper printed cost millions of dollars because you require presses and trucks and outlets to sell it. no longer do the few folks who quite literally own the airwaves for radio or TV get to decide for us what gets seen and heard. no longer can cable cos gatekeep access to content. the oligopoly driven by high cost of entry was broken and suddenly, the rivers of information ran free. the days of “never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel” were over. pixels cost next to nothing. reach was in reach for everyone.
media saw part of this deluge coming. they understood they’d have to compete against more outlets and other news venues online where customers could have basically costless ability to shift to a new provider. once, you could not get the LA times delivered to a peoria homestead each morning. now you could. where once there were two or three, now 10,000 paperboys competed for each doorstep.
this was media thinking. but what they missed was social media thinking and the manner in which it empowered their staff and disintermediated them.
they did not understand the brain drain that was coming from the breaking of their monopsony on talent. (a monopsony is a monopoly on the ability to buy, in essence, being the only customer for a product) they were used to being the only game in town, the only way for a great writer to reach a big audience every day. they were middlemen. and then suddenly no one needed middlemen to come to market. and then suddenly, “poof” all the talent not only realized what it was worth but had a clear path to go realize that value. and they did.
the best of them make 7 figures now. it’s pretty easy to make 6 if you’re talented. they were probably always worth it, but they could not command it because the outlets controlled access to customers. but then the dual pincer of dropping media profits and rising potential for the most interesting to go it alone snipped and it cut away all the best and brightest, the most ambitions and engaging.
and what it left behind was dross.
and those it left behind are getting increasingly desperate.
those like self described:
amy, who cling to credentials and the ever shrinking walled gardens of dying mastheads, are wont to perceive this as a conspiracy, a movement somehow taking them on as they bravely state their cases then disable twitter comments as they are too accustomed to “speaking at” to countenance “speaking with” their audiences. (this is generally a colossal failure, btw. it not only reveals you as unable to stand in the real ring and defend your ideas, but it turns you into a piñata in the quote tweets.)
but there’s something else we get from amy as well which is a sense of just how media went so wrong and got so biased. the system was set up for it. it had no counterbalance. newspapers, TV, and radio speak at you. they speak to each other. it’s a club, a cadre. you do not get to speak back. and now you do.
the better class of journo relishes this and is thriving in this newfound relationship and synthesis with their audience, they experience it as a glory like flight. but the lesser class experiences it as pure, unmitigated pain.
they wanted to push narrative and now those to whom they presume to narrate can push back. they are hothouse flowers unceremoniously cast out into amazonian jungle and suddenly forced to compete with that which evolved here where life was hard and there was no sinecure, no safety. all had to strive. unlike before, getting the job was now the easy part but keeping it becomes the challenge because audience attention is no longer assured by credential and publication vector.
“i’m the editor and it’s news when i say it’s news” is dead.
the AP has abandoned any pretense of even being news any more and has adopted a pay for play “sponsored propaganda” model where special interests give them “grants” to hire staff and report on issues in preordained fashion.
it works for AP because so many other outlets carry AP stories so it still has a one to many force multiplier effect.
but this “activism for hire” model is not going to work for most.
and many are suffering.
obviously, bezos can afford to have a hobbyhorse newspaper in perpetuity if he so chooses. the question is "when will it become too embarrassing?"
meanwhile, twitter and substack are thriving.
but the censorious facebook struggles.
i wonder why?
mass media is dying, but media is being reborn.
and pretty much no one is buying this twaddle.
and it’s astonishing hearing laments like “we used to own the news. we owned the facts as well” issue forth form the mouths of WEF speakers as they realize the train they are standing in front of but, as ever, presume the problem cannot be them and must but that they are simply “not telling the proles hard enough.”
they seem to almost get it in the end as they speak of needing to be more transparent in and about their process, but does anyone really believe that mass media will go that way or are these just happy noises to set up the next round of tactical limited hangouts and performative pretense? or perhaps it’s not even possible as those who COULD do this already went out on their own and did. could those who remain even run this playbook if they wanted to without going “off narrative”?
there is no way to stop this evolution of better media and real access from emerging from a free market in the internet age. it’s just simple economics and consumer sovereignty arising from the free choices of free people. and everyone who is not an abject dullard seems to have figured out that this is happening by now even if they do not understand the why (or are misattributing it so some sort of dirty trick rather than realizing that the nasty manipulation is ending, not commencing).
and this is why leviathan has become so interested in media and messaging of late and pulled its scaly snout out of its pork troughs and cast its baleful eye upon the smallfolk of social media. we are the clever proto-rodents eating their statist/globalist eggs and they know that in a free market, we will thrive and they will go extinct. and this is why they will demand that the market not be free.
listen as EU president ursula von doom describes their plans to regulate social media.
chilling words from the head of the EU:
the number one risk of the global risk report: your speech.
it’s all there, misinformation, disinformation, and the digital service act to demand that social media providers police it. this is obviously as disingenuous as it is dissolute.
this is about one thing and one thing only: a return to an ideas oligopoly. she wants to go back to “having a broadcast permit to revoke if you say something we do not like.” our word shall be gospel and those who would speak against us must be silenced. then she’ll call you a fascist and call it a day.
but don’t take my word for it. press play and hear hers.
obviously, this is a grotesquerie beyond tolerance. it’s an embattled aristocracy trying to seize control of the memes of production. it’s also an outright admission that their ideas suck. if they really believed what they said was true, they’d debate. they’d convince. they would bring their case and their evidence and their logic and they would show you why their plans have merit. instead they censor, shrill, and turn off comments. it’s not going to work.
their credibility is in tatters and i suspect they’re going to take the whole EU down with them. no country or bloc can survive and thrive with the future they have on offer. not socially, economically, or culturally. from disastrous energy policy to destructive social preferencing and the impossible collision of unaffordable welfare states with aging populations and near unlimited and unaccountable immigration, the wheels are coming off everything.
they want no alternate narrator to tell the tale of what transpires. but the harder they squeeze, the more the water squirts out.
the new media 2.0 will derail the new deal 2.0.
those who would silence speech are never your friends and even if today they move against those you do not like, what will they do tomorrow? who else might one day wield these powers? and who might they come for?
this one is the inch that may not be yielded.
speech and free media is the bedrock of free people.
there are no exceptions.