Sunday, May 10, 2009

The American Press On Suicide Watch

by Frank Rich - May 9th, 2009 - New York Times

If you wanted to pick the moment when the American news business went on suicide watch, it was almost exactly three years ago. That’s when Stephen Colbert, appearing at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, delivered a monologue accusing his hosts of being stenographers who had, in essence, let the Bush White House get away with murder (or at least the war in Iraq). To prove the point, the partying journalists in the Washington Hilton ballroom could be seen (courtesy of C-Span) fawning over government potentates — in some cases the very “sources” who had fed all those fictional sightings of Saddam Hussein’s W.M.D.

Colbert’s routine did not kill. The Washington Post
reported that it “fell flat.” The Times initially did not even mention it. But to the Beltway’s bafflement, Colbert’s riff went viral overnight, ultimately to have a marathon run as the most popular video on iTunes. The cultural disconnect between the journalism establishment and the public it aspires to serve could not have been more vividly dramatized.

The Main Stream Media continues to try and explain why they are still relevant and to warn the people what they are losing if they don't wake up and start paying them for their lies. Here one of the most egregiously out of touch liberals, Frank Rich, uses an even more liberal denunciation of the Press' failure to revile conservatives (by the anti-war brigade) as an example of how out of touch the press really is. His example actually proves more than how out of touch the liberal press is. It also proves they are too narcissistic to willingly accept any criticism. I do agree with Frank Rich that the demise is "suicide" based on a refusal to be honest about their own willingness to spread politically biased lies and Democrat propaganda.

The last couple of weeks I spent a great deal of time talking with newspapers around the Inner Banks about the idea of a Libertarian column. There was no interest. Liberal viewpoint? No problem. Conservative viewpoint? Well maybe as long as it was in line with the liberal dogma about conservative views and free to the paper. But libertarian? Not interested.

That is the real point. Newspapers will pay for liberal opinion. It will pay for liberal reporters. It will shun conservatives unless they work for free.

The ongoing collapse of our newspapers is not just caused by the indifference of liberals to anyone who does not share their liberal view. (And by the way the breakdown of the American populace is still 25% liberal, 30% conservative and 35% moderate. The press breakdown is 80% liberal, 10% moderate, 10% conservative. Which means even moderates are underrepresented!) It is also caused by the ability of the Internet to deliver focused advertising at a fraction of the newspaper costs for things like auto, job, real estate, furniture and clothing ads - as well as food coupons, all of it LOCAL in nature. Newspapers could reduce their rates to compete, but they won't. So their revenue sources are dropping. They are also losing subscribers.

What the newspapers are losing is the monopoly over the eyes of the reader. If you have bought a newspaper it is rare that you will read two. So the dominant paper in an area gets to bias everything in favor of the owner's or editor's opinions even when acting like a monopoly. But when advertising is decoupled from the news, as is happening on the Internet, monopolies collapse.

Right now the world of the Internet is a world of chaos and anarchy and still overwhelmingly free. That rarely lasts. As some structure (and revenue process) comes to the Internet, it will be fascinating to figure out what results we will see. The one bet I will make is that Frank Rich "ain't gonna like it"!


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