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
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’
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.