The media market is driven by fire. Where there is none, it must be invented, because only fire gets clicks, clicks, clicks, clicks, clicks.
What kind of remotely intelligible discourse can occur an any major platform in which the monetization model is driven by bursts of artificially enhanced bright red angry emojis, not subtle shades of blue to a crepuscular mid-winter bucolic scene (metaphorically speaking, of course)?
In other words, subtlety and nuance is dead, at a time when sociocultural assumptions across the globe are being fundamentally challenged, and bold absolutarian priests of the order of the morally certain are clamoring to take hold the reigns of force power to FINALLY save humanity from itself.
At a time when dispassionate discourse offers opportunities to
bridge, to develop consensus, to grasp a more unbiased assessment of the
reality of power, the state of our human ‘development,’ etc, we are being
increasingly driven, and reinforced, like rats getting that food pellet
whenever they press that lever, to seek after, even demand…..nothing but
There are a lot of reasons for this, some of which may very well have to do with human biology, some of which may very well be an emergent reflection of the ‘new’ human condition in response to the technological reality we now find ourselves operating within.
Another driver is the nature of the media’s own power structure, dominated as it is by a select few media conglomerates that all share a few business model assumptions with one another, business model assumptions that, I submit, might be contributing far more to the media’s willingness to commit to the ‘fire’ brand of news delivery than any ideological, nefarious, conspiratorial, human engineering motivations which might also drive them to take similar extreme ‘fire news’ approaches.
These principles affect more than the type of product or service they provide, they also help explain some of the “censorship” that is now taking place across social media, as well as payment, platforms, which I’ll get to later.One of the most significant business model assumptions is this, profit MUST ALWAYS increase year-to-year. This means cut cost and chase clicks, because clicks mean money. The mission statement of the news media is a simple one, get dem clicks, clicks, clicks, clicks, clicks.
If they’re practicing less-than-journalistic standards, well, no need to worry about that as their major competition is doing the same thing, and those major competitors, along with you, control 90 plus percent of the whole news media market.
You need to spend the absolute minimum delivering the absolute minimum value to the customer (which you can do because you control, most likely, a minimum of 10 percent of the news media market, with 5 others accounting for 80 percent more of the market, and all of you are pretty much on board with this same principle).
You’re seeing this happening, bigly, in the gaming market, with loot boxes, cash grabs, microtransations, half-finished games, etc. Now that market has its AAA leviathans, but it isn’t nearly as monopolistically controlled as the news media market.
This, my friends, is not a free or open market, it is a coerced market in which the major decisions about how news is delivered to us are, for the most part, being made by a small number of individuals. As far as the essential decisions that define the very structures of corporations, and thus the products they produce, the services they provide, those decisions, in the news market, are made by perhaps as few as 50 individual human beings, making decisions that affect hundreds of millions of lives.
The news media also has the cooperation of the state, which, even as we speak, over in Europe, just passed sweeping legislation designed to protect the new power, IP, or Intellectual Property. With passage of Articles 11 and 13 by the EU, it appears that the European news market will be afforded more direct military backing by the state in which offenders of “IP” could potentially be approached with guns and forced to choose between potential death and being locked in a cage.
In America, at least, the state’s protection of the news corps, the big 6 of your world, is not as nearly obvious, though IP litigation does continue to overwhelmingly favor the side with the best lawyers. But talks of more overt protection of the big 6 (always in the form of protecting the free press) have come along in the form of proposals for journalistic accreditation by the state, proposals for extra levels of regulation targeting bloggers, even America’s own form of Articles 11 and 13, but, to be honest, for the most part these proposals have not gained tremendous traction.
In terms of preferential treatment by the state, anecdotal evidence suggests that access to political leaders is nearly as readily available to non-big-6 journalists. As one who has run a couple of independent newspapers myself, I can tell you that cooperation with government officials was not nearly as high with my publication as it was with some of the publications owned by one of the big 6. This complaint is a common one among independent journalists in general.
This preferential treatment notwithstanding, the news corps don’t need, at this moment, to turn to state guns for protection. Instead, the news corps have turned to their natural allies, the megacorp advertisers that had, at one point, bankrolled thousands upon thousands of YouTubers that were getting way more views, had much deeper impacts, than the million dollar glitzy fire productions of the big 6.
These megacorps are natural allies to the big 6, as thanks to their near-monopolistic powers they too can afford to create cheaper products and services for cheaper prices that play to the most counter-productive, divisive impulses we human beings contain.
And so you have YouTube Adpocolype. But Patreon and other similar Pay Portals arrived for creators, so that they could continue to produce that content which was continuing to outperform the million dollar productions.
But the megacorps spending the bulk of advertising dollars had a natural ally, the merchant service providers (just a handful dominate the whole market) and the financial institutions (also a near-monopolistic market). So that’s where we are today. And it’s not so much about ideology as it is clicks. But it’s not so much about clicks as it is chasing profit, which must increase, year after year, for corporations that must get bigger, year after year.
Patreon’s removal of Sargon of Akkad isn’t nearly as much about politics as it is about this simple fact:
The megacorp, no matter how much of the market it controls, can never consistently seem to get a bead on the pulse of the human zeitgeist.
Right now, they are so far removed from the reality of the rest of humanity, behind their gated communities and their homesteads in the mountains of Washington State, that they are incapable of understanding that zeitgeist, and thus doomed to fail to the webcam reporter who is no smarter, no more talented than the folks you’ve groomed to spit your fire, BUT they are authentically connected to what most of humanity is connected to, the daily grind, not the sanitized, insulated world of the megacorpers and their entourage.
So here we are today. Most people have now come to realize that the end of the market trail leads to the financial institutions. If the financial institutions decide to shut you down, well, it’s not very difficult to do at all, as, once again, that market is controlled by a handful of megacorps.
As for the fire news model, well, whatever drove the big 6 to adopt that model, the so-called alt media adopted the same exact model, in part because they too, like their big 6 broskies, are also following that same business model.
In a market saturated by fire news content from the big 6, alt media could hardly be heard if it didn’t try to outfire the big 6. Thus, alt media has become a cheaper version of the big 6 rather than emerging as a viable journalistic alternative to the big 6’s fire news model. And they’re also getting outperformed by the one-camera YouTube commenter.
Clicks, clicks, clicks, clicks, clicks.
Now, I’m not complaining, I’m not making a value judgment, only an observation. Perhaps, in the end, I might yet discover the whole fire news model thing was, at its core, more about reflecting an authentic zeitgeist of the human condition at that particular epoch, that the product was a product of an authentic demand, not a manipulated, conditioned demand that willfully deployed deceptive tactics to build that market (just to let you know, yes, yes, I support the last supposition, not the first).
But, I am NOT merely complaining, I am working on building a different kind of news business model (which I will elaborate on in the coming weeks) that will NOT be deploying much in the way of newsfire (save for a daily segment called NewsFire that dissects the latest trending rager), that will not seek sponsorships or advertising, and will offer, hopefully, some nuance, some subtlety, and, most importantly, plenty of reason for HOPE.
As the saying goes, be the change you want to see. I believe that there IS a market for more analytical, less opinionated news services, so I’m about to test out that model. I’m about to attempt to BE the news service I WANT to see. We’ll find out if there’s any truth to my assumptions soon enough.