The Media’s Political Suicide

Daniel Greenfield writing in Frontpage Mag has some thoughts about how the media is committing suicide. They’re good thoughts.

McClatchy had bought Knight Ridder for $4.4 billion to create the second largest news company. After going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, McClatchy was won in an auction by a hedge fund, which also owns the National Enquirer, in a secret bidding which started with $30 million cash and $270 million in debt.

None of this says anything good about the future of its D.C. bureau, or the Miami Herald, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Sacramento Bee, the Kansas City Star, and other hollowed out husks of major urban papers carrying huge loads of pension debt and even bigger loads of radical left-wing politics.

Earlier this year, Warren Buffett had dumped 30 newspapers that he had bought for $344 million for $140 million. The Newseum, a $450 million media museum, backed by Gannett, was sold off last year.

Gannett, the biggest newspaper chain in the country, lost $80 million in the first quarter of the year even after a merger in which it slashed jobs at some of the hundreds of newspapers which it controls.

Over 20,000 media jobs have been wiped out in the previous two years and it’s just getting started.

Just breaks your heart, doesn’t it? Yeah, no, mine either. But in a way it should. The press has been a driver of freedom since the modern world began, and I daresay we are already missing it. Still, it’s become a hollowed-out shell with little to recommend it.

Local papers are dying. Formerly influential national news magazines are irrelevant. When was the last time you heard anything from Time except around its annual Cause of the Year publicity stunt?

And it’s not just the dead tree media that’s in trouble. Digital darlings like the Huffington PostVice and Vox have been cutting jobs because clickbait doesn’t win over subscribers who will pay for content. Network television and cable news are on their last legs as cable subscribers cut the cord and content providers set up their own Netflix rivals. What happens to NBC News or CNN in a marketplace defined by Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, CBS All Access, and whatever other platforms will pop up?

The media hasn’t had a viable business model in a long while. It’s a zombie that kills even as it dies. […]

The transformation of the media from for-profits to non-profits sheds any commitment to the marketplace, to a community of readers who pay for its services, and instead puts it at the service of dot com tycoons who want to invest in left-wing causes. The experience of reading or watching the media’s content also changes from information to indoctrination. As is the case with so many of the dot com giants which finance the media and on whose platforms the media depends, the reader and the viewer are no longer consumers, they are the product that is being sold to the media’s political backers.

Even as the non-profit media claims that it’s now free to pursue journalism as a public service, it’s not providing a service to the public, it’s serving a small class of donors by trying to influence the public.

All pretty obvious when you look at it but who wants to look at a looming zombie, soon to be a corpse.

“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor,” Bari Weiss wrote in her resignation letter to the New York Times.

Twitter is the media’s editor. Its platform provides the content that fills the media, but it also makes the infrastructure of the media surplus to requirements. The medium is the message and the medium of Twitter is 280 characters. As Weiss notes, “the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space.”

But the real performance space is on Twitter where content is consumed and debated much more rapidly in short form than in the long form pages of the New York Times. As the media transforms into a pure instrument of political advocacy whose antics play out on social media, there’s less and less use for the expensive billion-dollar operations, the newspapers, channels, and even the sites of the media. […]

The media has been killing cities and the country to buy a little more time for its existence. But it is becoming a zombie that is killing the basis for its own existence and then the very thing that it does.

The members of the media began by killing their ethics and morals. They tossed away the truth as a value and a goal. They turned on their colleagues, incited mobs, celebrated violence and terror. And then they set out to destroy the organizations they worked for and the country that they live in.

Their final act of political suicide will be to kill their own writing.

As sad as that may be, well, they chose their own fate. The world can get by without the New York Times, the Washington Post, the various broadcast propaganda organizations, without The Telegraph and the Guardian, and even without the BBC. We will find the information somewhere as we always have. The media is no longer the message, the message is the message, as it always should have been.

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