Old And Busted

Way back in the before times, at the dawn of the interwebs, I had some dealings with a small niche publisher. He had a few small newspapers he sold that focused on narrow subjects. Before the internet, there were a lot of these publications. Some were in the magazine format, while others were like a small newspaper. The model was to charge a relatively high subscription fee to a small audience. They could not sell ads, so the only way they could survive was on high subscription rates to loyal fans.

One day, this publisher starts telling me about his plans to abandon the old model and move to the internet. That way he could cut his production and postage costs, which were the biggest part of his operation. I asked him how he was going to handle the revenue side, as this was before firewalls and on-line payment processing, He said he was going to make up the difference with clicks. After some back and forth, I told him banks don’t take clicks, so he better come up with a way to make money, rather than clicks.

The guy thought I was just ignorant about the way the future would work, so he dismissed my skepticism. He was not alone. In the 1990’s, everyone was given a disk and then a CD that allowed them to get on-line and feel like there were on the cutting edge of technology. They were in the new economy, with clicks and traffic, not the old economy with money and expenses. It was a good lesson in human nature. Take people out of their natural environment and you suddenly see their raw cognitive ability.

That story comes to mind whenever there are layoffs in media and the media people start analyzing what went wrong. This story at Wired is better than most, but the fact that it needs to be written at this late date says a lot about the people in the media. By now, everyone should know that the newspaper model was never about the news. It was about the distribution system. The newspaper brought ads and marketing material to the people at a cost and efficiency no one could match. That was always their business.

The news part was the marketing expense. People would buy the paper because of gossip or the sports pages. The news was only interesting when something interesting was happening. Otherwise, the so-called hard news side was a sinkhole. When the internet robbed these operations of their distribution hegemony, the logic of their business went with it. When the internet robbed them of gossip and sports, they were left with hard news, which has a tiny market, but huge expense.

This was obvious by the middle of the Bush years. Yet people in the news business have never noticed. Today, in a world where most everyone knows most news is fake, just made up by desperate losers looking for attention, the point should be impossible to ignore, but here we are anyway. After Vice, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed cut staff in what will be a long journey into insolvency, the media was full of hand wringing about the state of journalism. It suggests the people in the media are not terribly bright.

That still leaves open the question as to why no one can find a model for news that is sustainable, without rigging the market or relying on the charity of billionaires. The on-line advertising model was always a bit of sham and that is becoming increasingly clear as Google and Facebook monopolize the space. Even there, the viewership of the ads is declining, as people employ counter measures. The result is more people are exposed to ads, but fewer people are watching them. At some point, that becomes a problem.

What may be true of the news business is that without monopoly or oligopoly power, it cannot exist beyond some scale. That is, a form of Brook’s Law comes into play. The more journalists that are added to a news enterprise, beyond some optimal number, the faster the enterprise descends into insolvency. A single journalist can create enough content for a theoretical maximum of consumers. Two journalists, however, can produce something less than the sum of those theoretical maximums.

This would explain why local papers somehow manage to bugger on, despite what is happening to city broadsheets and even tabloids. It’s not that the local paper fills a niche, which is certainly true. It’s that it never grows beyond a certain size and that size is well below the failure point. The people working in it don’t see themselves as a secular clerisy and instead take a practical view of their job. As a result, the cultural dynamic inside the organization is like you see inside any small local business.

Another point worth mentioning is that it has always been assumed a new economy would evolve to take advantage of the new efficiency brought on by technology, particularly the free flow of information on-line. What’s going on with mass media suggests maybe there is another option. Technology eliminates large chunks of economic activity, not through automation, but by making it impossible maintain barriers to entry. That is, when the price of something fully reflects all available information, the price drops to zero.

95 thoughts on “Old And Busted

  1. When I worked in newspapers, almost twenty years ago, we knew for a while the sales were shrinking simply because people were dying. Much of the loyalty to the product was simply old people who had been brought up with having newspaper in their home (even though as Mr Z points out, a lot of the attraction was gossip and sports). Younger people who never read the paper had no interest.

    Even the ‘hatch, match and dispatch’ column of classified ads were destined to run out because people were getting married or having kids who didn’t feel the need to tell everyone with a paid-for advertisement when Fecesbook and the like would do it for free to their ‘friends.’ Once old readers began dying off there were naturally fewer people needing to read if old Fred from down the road had expired.

    There was also the television factor, so every newspaper for a time offered excellent coverage of programs on the TV, which was odd because TV was going to be a factor in crushing newspapers. Once TVs began to have easy to access program guides, the final ace card the papers held was gone.

    We had another issue with an evening newspaper I worked on. People heading home after work might stop driving to buy a newspaper. Once extensive parking restrictions (in the UK, the discovery of gallons of yellow paint that could be applied to roads to allow people to be fined for non-crimes) people couldn’t stop driving so a brief window of sales opportunity disappeared.

    There were other factors — notably the collapse of communism in eastern Europe which allowed more newspapers in previously restricted areas of the world, so the price of newsprint (the paper) was driven up, making it all more expensive to produce– but the writing was on the wall a long time before I left the business.

  2. “That is, when the price of something fully reflects all available information, the price drops to zero.”

    I think you mean the profit margin drops to zero.

  3. I just made another red pill ‘discovery’. You can’t have an oligopoly without the GOP.

  4. 1. There hasn’t been news since before Reagan (I can’t speculate how far back and haven’t analyzed). It has just been spin. Consider even Vietnam where things were tragic or brave or crimes against humanity not based on any facts, but visuals and captions.

    2. We now have livestreams of actual things happening. Why do I need a reporter and Photog and whatever else in the entourage to hours later get it completely wrong like the Covington Teens.

    3. At some point “let cops view your doorcam” will be “let anyone view it” so the problem of “little brother” will get worse.

    4. the Ads monitize the privacy rape because that is what they can leverage – narrow casting, but that also discriminates. On Facebook, I can target young white males which would give the EEOC and whatever other agency a fit. That has been deprecated directly, but the demographics are still targetable. NOT a member of AARP. That will make the privacy rape less cost effective, except to sell to places like private eyes, insurance companies, or the government (NSA? Why bother when you can do the NationalZuckingdataAgency). I assume it already is happening.

    5. News sells based on Titilation, Urgency, Importance or Significance in that order. You will gawk at a car wreck. You will prepare for severe weather. You will think “meh” that a local greenspace is turning brown.

    6. You still use aggreators, and there is no money in accuracy or integrity. We are emotional so it is red or blue. Love or hate Trump.

    A Native American suffered a stroke and is being starved and dehydrated to death in a Catholic Arizona hospital. That has only been covered (of all places) on The Blaze. Not on Breitbart. Conversely, Breitbart has been better on H1-B displacement. I also get info from the Intercept or even Democracy Now on occasion.

    Gatekeepers everywhere.

  5. To everyone here pretending they’re not going to watch the Super Bowl. Just reminding you that you are to root for the Patriots, and let people know about it. Yes, I realize the Patriots and Tom Brady are not actually of the real Right. Not actually pro-White. But half this screwed up country thinks the Patriots are exactly that. Fine. Good! It’s our Pats vs Them. And I can’t wait for the Patriots to ruin their day. They HATE when the Patriots win. They just KNOW coach Belichick is a scowling racist.

    Also, it’s in Atlanta. Wouldn’t be surprised if there was a riot if the Pats win.

    Let’s be real, football at the playoff and Super Bowl level is still a great watch. And Tom Brady is the man.

    • Yes, off to the so the sports ball party in a few. But my spouse is an old line Pats fan which makes me a Pats fan (like it or not) . Funny thing about Belichick, one of my kids used to give him rides up the clubhouse at Sankaty Head and see him around the place a lot. He was the most “please and thank you” guy around the club. I think he’s one of those guys that zero escapes his mouth without a specific, intended purpose.

  6. Obama slush fund kept digital media on life support for 2 years…?


    “It was called the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act signed into law in 2016 by then-President Obama (and allowed by Establishment Republicans like Paul Ryan) that took effect in 2017 and allocated a whopping $160 MILLION taxpayer dollars over two years to pay for government-sponsored propaganda. The money is now gone and guess what? About 1000 journalists are suddenly being laid off.

    Coincidence? Hah! This was classic Obama, reaching into the bottomless trough of taxpayer dollars to push his self-promoting agenda. He did it with green energy, America-last trade agreements, and his post-2016 coverage to help ensure he remained relevant in order to quickly accumulate tens of millions of dollars worth of book deals, Netflix deals, and speaking fees.

    It’s enough to make even the Clintons blush.”

  7. Did anyone notice that there are only 2 comments on the Wired article written by a journalism school director? No one really cares.

    Also, he never actually says what he thinks might have saved newspapers other than to say that they should have diverted some of their profits into R&D. And this is someone who has supposedly been thinking about this “problem” for years.

    They aren’t sending their best, folks.

    Or if this is it, they’re goners.

    • And what’s more, he is utterly oblivious to the core problem: that the internet allowed millions of people to compete for eyeballs on an rapidly leveling playing field. I used to be a regular (online) Wired-reader, but these day I doubt I read more than a handful of Wired-pieces a year, because I no longer have to be content with sloppily written pieces by people with only a half-assed understanding of science and tech, I can read blogs from actual scientists on almost any matter I fancy.

      A few years back, I read a feature length piece where the journo had visited some lab specializing in high energy lasers. He helpfully explained that a laser generates light by ‘turning atoms into photons.’ I mean, Jesus, if he didn’t know what an atom was, he could’ve asked one of the guys working there! Or looked at the effing Wiki!

      No thanks, Wired.

      Of course, it doesn’t help when every MSM outlet is rabidly SJW; to wit, reading the above piece, Wired suggested I might want to read a piece about “James Watson and the Insidiousness of Scientific Racism”. The piece is, not surprisingly, written by an African-American computational biologist, (separated by one degree) from James Watson—Nobel Laureate and mouthpiece of racist opinions.

      Man merkt die Absicht und wird verstimmt!

      • Wired, like the rest of Silicon Valley, used to be heavily libertarian (before the social media infestation and I think it was bought and the new owner changed direction). Now it is SJW garbage. Same with Scientific American — it used to be real science, now it’s garbage.

  8. It’s been long known and ignored that the public never really cared about ‘hard news’ in the first place. Of all the reasons that people bought newspaper in ye olden days of thirty years ago and more, hard news always ranked last, far behind the sports page, weather forecast, movie listings and classified ads. Even behind niche areas like horoscopes, puzzles and book reviews.

    I reality, the news section was a vanity project for the wealthy owners of the papers, a way for them to compete and one up each other.

    That’s the reason that news hasn’t been able to succeed in the internet age – no one wanted it in the first place.

  9. This is a great topic. If there’s no barrier and the content is based on perception by anyone who wants to look isn’t this similar to art or at least pop culture? Anyone can be an artist. But in order to succeed you have to come up with a sale-able idea, execute it, and sell it. Successful artists have done this for centuries. It requires a certain kind of talent in an Andy Warhol world.

  10. You should have also added that in “the old days” – 95% of the national and intentional news in your local paper was just a reprint or rehash of what was in the AP/WaPo/NYT/WSJ. This was true of almost every market except maybe Chicago, Boston, and LA. The 3 Networks also followed the NYT/WaPo Party line. So, the only unique thing you got out of say, the SF Chronicle or the St. Louis Whatever, was some local news, coverage of the local sports team, and the classified.

    The internet killed off the Major-Met Newspaper “Our man in Washington” reporter. People discovered that Joe Blow from the St. Louis whatever was just cribbing from the New York Times and saying nothing of value.

  11. All the models are screwed up as it turns out the “move fast and break things” ethos of Silicon Valley might you know actually make things less stable.

    A few years back the cable people being all agitated about cord cutting and the like as well as people complaining about the high cost of all those unneeded channels were saying “Well we could always go to ala carte”

    The response of “bring it” kind of stunned the cable companies into sanity for a moment

    They suddenly realized than most people who still have cable even aging Baby Boomers only watch a handful of channels and a trust ala carter business model with guy revenue from the channels no one watches.

    They don’t live on subscription fees nearly as much as ad revenue

    This disruption is not a good thing even when it hits people who are at best not my friends and are usually enemies.

    A society where people are finding it increasingly harder to make a living and aren’t having kids is a gonner. I won’t miss Clown World but I do like living in a 1st world country too.

    • I have a friend who subscribes to NR. Always talking about how the Dems are the real racists…blah ….blah….blah. Occasionally, he will surprise me though, and be at odds with NR talking points. And I’m not sure I’ve heard the sentence, “Hispanics are a natural Republican constituency” from him in awhile. Texas flipping blue might finally be the death knell of NR.

      • Can you share any thoughts about how to persuade your friend to join our side? You seem to have a perfect lab specimen for us to study regarding persuasion and conversion.

        I was your friend ten years ago. What radicalized me was moving to San Francisco, observing the macro effects of the burgeoning non-whites, and then continually asking why we were not allowed to enforce our immigration laws.

        • This guy both hates and is terrified of the left. He may not like where the right is headed, and despite all the NeverTrump propaganda coming from NR, never even considered NOT voting for Trump despite misgivings about him. I think he will reluctantly follow where the Right goes.

          Now interestingly, I have another friend who subscribed to The Weekly Standard for the 20 years I know him, and is a hardcore NeverTrump’er and proudly voted for that libertarian tool who wouldn’t even take a stand on baking a cake. Even when I was “muh Constitution” guy, I never much cared for the Weekly Standard. Always rubbed me the wrong way. I think it was because they were always McCain bootlickers, and I’ve always hated that guy.

        • Maybe wishful thinking on my part, but i think i see massive rapid change in opinions. I highly recommend this podcast about a woman killed by a drunk illegal with four dui (https://southernaf.libsyn.com/the-southern-af-podcast-64-the-cost-of-diversity) He walked out of hospital and headed straight to mexico, of course. The host – a neonazi cried during the interview. This happened in my town which has experienced rapid change in the last 20 years with going from 90% white hillbilly to many mexicans. The whites are a placid people but it has begun impossible not to notice. Construction has been taken over and gas stations and small stores are all run by indians and pakis. I follow powerline blog and have noted a new rawness in the comments. They are pro-israel hard civ-nats and seem like decent guys. But the commenters are pushing back on them these days (of course i do my part too:). It is sorta fun. Brought back my college days and arguing with jewish students.

  12. The media is being squished by Facebook and Google, but it will not be long until the advertisers buying clicks from FB/GOOG will realize that they need to go to the source of their sales, which is Amazon, and drop these new intermediaries. Amazon itself needs to make sure it is a relatively impartial vendor, or specialist hobbyist sites will do a better job of parsing out the best choices for shoppers. Information really does want to be free.

  13. I wonder if that bogus story in Buzzfeed a few weeks ago about Cohen and Trump was some kind of effort to forestall the layoffs say saw coming.

  14. I have difficulty describing how much I hate journalists, and I don’t hate easily.

    The first time I got banned from the Guardian, was when I asked one of their diversity hires, who was pissing on British people for being too lazy and stupid to compete with Polish migrant labour, if he went for half the salary of his colleagues.

    Damn, it’s gratifying to see these evil slimeballs being put out of business by independents undercutting their salary.

    • The “learn to code” reply to laid off journalists was inspired and satisfying. It’s rare that you get to read back the insults of your enemies to them when they are in the same situation that you were in when they insulted you.

  15. The internet is the best thing to happen to humanity, which is why thousands of white papers are floating around governments and academia about how to go about censoring and regulating it. VPNs are a lifesaver in corrupt countries that are ahead of the curve. One day, we will all need VPNs.

    You can’t very well have millions of people just go online, read about topics, and give their opinions on topics, the sheep might start putting two and two together. Part of the hysterics of our current time is the media reacting to slipping control.

    Most reporters are useless story tellers. They were pot smoking C- students in college. I guess they’ll just have to become used car dealers. It’s a much more honest living.

    The internet, over many years will also wipe out academia as it is currently structured. The days of thousands of administrators milling around a campus are over too.

    • From your lips to God’s ears, buddy. I taught college for many years, and I can tell you truly that you can learn far more for a buck fifty in late charges at the library than you’ll learn in all five years of college combined. Hell, the guys who coded the Postmodern Essay Generator could put most colleges out of business *right now* — just make it customizable as to specific buzzwords, page length, and citation style. You could turn out everything from a freshman orientation “reflection paper” to a PhD thesis and absolutely nobody would know the difference.

      • It’s going to happen. Physical campuses will always be around, but not near the scale and scope and bureaucracy they have now. The education machine currently has the “degree” as the token you get to open some gate at a theoretical corporation or bureaucracy. This is wearing thin year after year as these kids have zero critical thinking skills and are competing for one seat that was occupied by an old hippie who died in his chair.

        This is the tragedy of our era, all kinds of dead establishments still pulling levers, yet with no credibility. Our society is just a maze of rent seekers at this point. I can’t think of any other point in human history that’s quite like this one. You would have to go to 1780’s Europe where everyone was running around in powdered wigs just before the cataclysm of the Napoleonic era. You could also say perhaps the pith helmeted Europeans of 1910, washed away by events. Today it’s the soy drinkers with useless jobs in some bureaucratic machine that depends on a global bond market supported by central banks.

        It’s going to be fun watching millions of people get mugged by reality.

      • Moving up in the water company through Water Treatment to Water Distribution and Dam Operator, there was no need for my Cal State low cost no loans degree. Knew a number of women in H2O company as plumbers, electricians, instrument techs, heavy equipment operators. Damn good money. Best move ever. Really enjoyed working predominantly with guys and the type of women that appreciated working with men. Made for some great stories!

  16. Z Man;
    Who can forget the mantra from the ’90s (cue stoner accent) “Information just wants to be free (maaann).” I thought this was nuts too back then. But I also thought, hey, I’ll take your free content over my dial-up modem. The amazing thing is that it has taken over 20 years for this fallacy to shake out for ‘internet journalism’. But then the ’90s were a time of waayy too much VC money chasing far too few actually viable, new, internet-enabled business models. Made me question my own sanity how long some of those cons lasted.

    Besides using content to push ads, the only other viable internet-platform-only mass media business model seems to be tricking people with too much leisure time funded by others to provide free content for you to monetize yourself (facebook and twitter). Privatizing the profits, socializing the costs is the oldest scam in the world: Just an updated online version.

    Anybody who has spent any time in infosys (or studied information theory) knows that it takes work to produce information and that the workers involved will need to be paid somehow. Faceborg just figured out that pay could be non-monetary, at least until the dopamine hits wear off for the last junkie (or they have to actually begin doing work-work at their desks at their jobs).

    Heck, it takes work to keep the second law of thermodynamics at bay: That is, to merely maintain the information that you have produced already. Thanks to IT, it now takes far less work to accomplish this task for any one item of information. But *somebody* has to be maintaining all those energy-gobbling server farms in order for the internet to ‘never forget’. Maybe the internet suddenly going down and forgetting everything due to surprise scarcity will be the modern version of the collapse of the Roman Empire.

  17. The Athletic is monetizing sports journalism. No advertising. Superior product. As Z noted above… people bought the newspaper for sports news.


    Would you pay for quality hard news journalism without ads? I would… but I bet the market isn’t very big compared to say sports.

  18. Trump cancelled an Obama-era rule where money from case courts of Govt. v businesses were donated to “charities” and “NGOs”;

    Obama’s Countering Disinformation Act, funds for left wing propaganda, has dried up and massive layoffs are occurring.

  19. “It suggests the people in the media are not terribly bright.”

    This has always been obvious minus a few exceptions.

    Before universities became diversity playgrounds where did you find the dimmest bulbs on campus? Who made up a significant percentage of the repeat party animals? If the Jschool wasn’t at the top of that list they were close.

  20. I have a small content-driven e-commerce based business.

    The fakery in the black-box world of Google/Fakebok etc. is rampant.

    As is the massive cottage industry of SEO/traffic and marketing agency work that feeds off of the purposeful obfuscation of what drives actual humans toward any particular site.

    Dissecting this market has been a fascinating academic exercise but a miserable business experience.

    Not to pile on millennials, because its not their fault that they came of age when real work was only for dummies lol, but they seem quite content living off of the hologram that is “new” or “social” media.

    Very few that I have encountered through my biz have any real idea how they create value or even protect losses, yet are super excited and super high on themselves as to the product they produce – even though most can’t articulate its life cycle beyond the present moment.

    Strange times. Once the cat comes out as to the level of BS baked into traffic and engagement, there will be another purge of these snarky ironic kids from the job market.

    In the meantime, I write my own content because the $5k per month digital agency I was using is full of uptalking dolts. My weekly marketing call was physically painful. I’d rather listen to NPR.

  21. The awesome thing about Web 2.0 is: it revealed that “journalism” is, in fact, just a hobby. Web 1.0 allowed folks to monetize their hobbies, so that the guy who mimeographed a newsletter for his local model railroad club could turn it into a glossy and advertise subscriptions online, worldwide. But: when Web 2.0 came around and nobody had to pay for a subscription anymore (because all the hobbyists had blogs), the original newsletter guy kept right on going as an unpaid blogger, because he was never really anything more than a hobbyist. Ditto writers of fanfic, etc. — people briefly made gazillions with it (see e.g. the “Fifty Shades of Gray” lady),but now anyone can slap something up on Kindle Unlimited… and they will, because the kind of person who writes fiction writes it whether she gets paid or not. Turns out “journalists” are the same way — they’re just gossip-mongers who like feeling like they’re “in the know.” All it takes to be a “journalist” — even a very very good one, who digs up real stories — is a hobbyist level of obsessiveness and a desire for public kudos. I bet the “guys in pajamas” who exposed the Rather Memos, etc. didn’t get a dime for it, and still don’t – they’re just hobbyists. ALL journalism works like that. Time to get a job, girls, and go back to gossiping over the fence like the rest of the old hens.

  22. Great points, but I’d like to point out that in the seattle – Tacoma area, even in my local neighborhood blog, the writers absolutely see themselves as part of the secular clerks.

    • There’s a certain arrogance that develops among white liberals when the GOP ceases to win elections. Despite the Masshole stereotype, I find a greater realism in that state’s lefties, thanks to their electing token GOPers to the Governorship. There wouldn’t be that Seattle smugness if GWB had stopped the theft of the ’04 election.

    • I’m in Portland and you see this here too. The problem affecting both places is simply that the entire West Coast is busting at the seams with transplanted pseudo-intellectuals from all over the nation. They show up here already grinding their leftist axes in the back of the rusted Volvo the whole drive over. Since they majored in Black Lesbian Gardening Studies they find that there are no high paying jobs for them and drift into the local service economy slinging lattes or making copies at Kinkos.

      They retain the notion that “this isn’t what I really do” though and will put ridiculous amounts of effort into the being the bestest social justice wackaloon ever to write for… the local blog covering the news over a 5 block radius around the pub they get smashed on PBRs at. The low pay and lower respect they get at their shitty real job drives the rage that’s never far from the surface in their “writing career”. Since no normal or sane person works as hard as they do at being over the top nuts, they drive the normies out of basically everything here. It’s not just blogs and tiny local news sites but everything. Start a fucking birdwatching club and the SJWs will take it over within a year. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is just fun here.

  23. I’m a bit surprised an oligarch didn’t step up and continue funding these propaganda outlets, especially The Weekly Standard.

    • Even the oligarchs tire of their pets. Kristol strikes me as analogous to owning a cat that always bit and scratched and now decides to become incontinent all over your house. You tell the kids that “he’s going to a farm upstate” and then drop by the vets…

      • Yes, I think the oligarchs have higher expectations now for their propaganda toys. The founder Murdoch got tired of The Weekly Standard and sold it, and then last year Philip Anshultz apparently tried to sell it without success so he just shut it down. It’s focus had become so specialized. I suppose they tried the Adelsons but with Trump moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem (and with their boy Bolton in as National Security Advisor) there were no Israel First Never Trump billionaires left….or at least none willing to lose the amount of money owning a flaming wreck like The Weekly Standard would involve.

    • It’s because of market saturation. The supply of propaganda exceeds any possible demand. Left and RIght outlets all flog the same stories with their same general biases in generally the same way. It’s all predictable hot takes on the same momentary excitement There’s just no point in funding any more sources of it and oligarchs have plenty of other ways to waste their fortunes.

    • Anschutz pulled funding for the Weekly Standard, but Omidyar provided funding to hire away some of the scum to a new site ironically named as a synonym for wall.

      As billionaires go, spending a couple million a year on journolists is not a major heartburn. No imagine what Soros and others are doing with the donation of billions. And there are thousands of rich that can do the same.

  24. You hit on it with the “secular clerisy” comment. Journalists have, until recently seen themselves as somehow anointed to a position in society far above we “lesser men who walk beneath…and peep about”. Live in a town full of them and went to a university with a top three journalism program. This indoctrination was stronger than what went on at the theological seminary that shared the campus. Normal rules did not apply to them. That created a huge blind spot to economic reality. Wrap this with the Lake Woebegone wackiness of the early Internet years “we’re all going to earn above the average because….internet”. And you get what you see here today….

  25. Local papers hang on because the do local news and events, and that is why we read them. Whenever I travel, especially to more remote areas, I usually scan a copy of the local paper just to see what is going on and to get a “feel” for the place. Given that many of you alt-right types are localists, you guys ought to understand this intuitively about local papers.

  26. Reading a newspaper, to me, is like visiting my old elementary school. It’s nostalgic and smells a bit funny, I vaguely remember the faces of people I used to see there, and after 5 minutes I’ve had my fill for 20 more years.

    Media is going through the same balkanization and atomization happening throughout society. We all happen to read a lot of media, so we notice it more. Other people don’t notice it in media, but notice it in their local communities and youth sports. Or not knowing the name of anybody on their block more than 2 houses removed. Think about all the “news” print and programming from the 1980’s that has gone extinct. It’s as foreign to people today as politicians giving whistle stop stump speeches.

    At present, desperate and lonely humans are turning to drugs, porn and suicide. I’d like to think people can turn it around, but until individuals start needing each other again – not in a transactional way, but truly recognizing that they need human contact and will go out of their way to obtain it – nothing will get better.

    Some of you may be lucky enough to experience this, but I wonder how many readers here have been out with a group of more than 5 people (other than their immediate family) more than once in the past 3 months. My friends and I have a coffee-run group that does distance trail runs every other weekend, and everyone has at one point or another pointed out how much they enjoy it and how rare it is that people just “get together” like this any more. The odds probably go up if you are over 45 and down if you are under 35 as the culture atomizes. People my age are still used to the idea of getting groups together. The number probably doesn’t pop back up until you reach 16-17-18 yr olds, but even they are starting to isolate more.

    • People who are involved with religious groups (at least, ones larger than the anarchist communist lesbian Jews for Jesus) do this pretty regularly. In my case, Soka Gakkai International, we meet several times a month, as members’ personal schedules permit. The youth division meets with us older folks and on their own. It certainly does fill a social need in addition to the spiritual one.

      • True, and the biggest challenge they face is making sure it’s not just one person driving it all. A lot of the drop in volunteerism is because people tire of working hard, getting burned when others don’t show up when they said they would, and then the person gets blamed when things don’t pan out.

        As the other commenter noted, we live in a low trust society.

    • We are subscribing to the Sunday paper, at 50 cents a week, in part to provide me with the disposable dropcloths that go under my messy garage projects. The plastic bags they come in make great single-use gloves to clean out the cat box.

    • I understand the point you are making. The loss of community is unfortunate. But as Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” explores, the real deleterious force eroding social capital is the loss of trust between people. Certainly the failing media have contributed to that as they have descended into fakery, click bate and SJW emotional provocation. Fear sells, and the “if it bleeds, it leads” dictum has ruled the news cycle for decades. Then too, Our Thing has recognized that other forces destroy trust and community just as surely. As Heartiste coined, “Diversity + Proximity = War.” An America in which the white super majority has been reduced to a detested minority has degraded community baked in to the demographics. As I get older, I find I prefer to be alone and focused on greater self-reliance. And, as always, YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!

    • It’s fun to remind people that the purpose of “the news” is to sell you hamburgers, hair product, drugs, cars, and beer.

      Four “weather” segments in a 1-hour nightly TV news program, lol. Here’s the weather until tomorrow morning . Later, here’s the weather for tomorrow . Later, here’s the weather for the next 3 days . Finally, here’s the weather for the week ahead. Which will be wrong.

      The funny part is you can read about 5 different forecasts and watch two video forecasts during the commercial break, and then switch over to Hulu because who needs commercials.

    • You are the product, same as with Google.

      They get your attention in exchange for news or entertainment. This seems a reasonable exchange but a society can’t run itself on advertising to an increasingly poorer and more divided populace.

      as Jeff Hammerbacher noted The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

      Even if this wasn’t the case we can’t innovate our way out anyway innovation destroys more jobs and income than it creates.

      In the end its self correcting , we are starting on out 3rd generation of low fertility and either the the US gets more immigrants becoming stupider and poorer and less trusting thus destroying the economies of scale , it collapse/blows up or it gets homogeneous probably though a combination of economics and force and just declines gently

      The actual correction would require enormous cultural changes and this in a nation that hasn’t had a clean upfront budget in nearly 30 decades.

      The best case scenario is ian authoritarian right wing populist takeover, The dissident right is shifting that way but its unlikely at this time to be up to the task

  27. Too much is made of the media contraction at present. The tabloids are not going away, just restructuring and perhaps integrating with social media. The model, whereby a billionaire subsidizes a loss-leading “news,” propaganda outlet of status, is very old. Advertising revenue never paid all the bills and paying 20% instead of 60% sounds like a paradigm shift, but realistically doesn’t mean much.

    The propaganda must flow.

    • I agree. Money will always be available to disseminate leftist propaganda. Why else does Hollywood insist on losing money when they know a commie subject will be a loser? They don’t care.

      • Rightist propaganda, too, if anyone would step up. Well into the 20th century, even small towns had the “[burg name] Democrat-Picayune” and the “[burg name] Republican Evening Post.” Each kept close tabs on the other — as a politician you couldn’t count on your local rag to bail you out if you got into trouble, because the other party’s newspaper would be all over you. It was a pretty good system, really, and eventually one of those small-town papers that keep buggering on will give it a try. Hell, do it nationally – I’ve floated the idea of “guerrilla news” before. A Drudge-style aggregator, but posting stories from local enthusiasts digging dirt. Nobody gets paid, so nobody gets sued. Put the physical server somewhere in the Caymans, put a physical address (a PO Box, also in the Caymans) at the bottom for people who want to “donate” to send a check, and it’s all good.

        • Honestly that’s why UK media has been superior to ours, there’s real competition. At one point in the US we all transferred to monodailies outside of NYC and DC. That’s why UK media isn’t dying, at least not as badly rather.

  28. Mass media has always been a tool of social indoctrination, and the “news” component provided a patina of legitimacy and worth. It used to be that this indoctrination was largely focused on building community affiliation, trust, and loyalty; but now it’s used primarily for imprinting “approved” political beliefs. For this brainwashing to work effectively, there should only be a single voice in any given venue. When the voices become a cacophony, you get mental chaos, not mind control.

  29. It is getting more acknowledged lately that journalists really don’t do the traditional research and news finding that “reporters” used to do. They just tweet and retweet and pilfer other unresearched and uninvestigated news sources.

    Agents of the state and cultural oligarchs is all they are. As far as online news sites, even the local ones are just overwhelmed with ads, pop ups and auto play videos and the like. At least we have concrete evidence of what they really are about and forget that nonsense on the so called masthead.

    • I see the MSM as a cultural KGB enforcer unit. They set the parameters for what can be publicly discussed and purge anything else from the public square. Liberal politicians are their gophers.

  30. Content is growing “stale” at a much accelerated rate. People in their 20’s now (or younger) do not know about most movies and music before the early 2000’s. Makes those big video and music holdings less valuable than might have been the case 20 years ago.

    • People now in their 20’s or younger don’t know dick about anything before “them”. And it seems they’re fine with that.

      • Funny, was just texting back and forth with my son who is interning in Oman with a marine salvor, pulling a stranded bulk carrier off a reef. New captain came on board, was talking about being shot in during the war in Croatia. I text my son, “before you discuss any further, need to figure out if he is Croation or Serbian”. Back..”why?” Me-“trust me, it counts”. Even back in high school we learned about “Balkan Wars” and “Balkanization”. Appears its all gone down the memory hole.

          • Had to give him a quick, by text, account of the Yugoslav breakup–he’s in a place with no internet, barely a cell signal. In his defense, the whole Miscellaneous Slav part of the world is harder to explain than the all the versions of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Told him “imagine all the counties in NY became countries and randomly went to war with each other for a millennia”

          • “imagine all the counties in NY became countries and randomly went to war with each other for a millennia”

      • Outside of historical events, the rest is pop culture and that is time limited by its nature

        I don’t blame them for not caring .

        Now absolutely the youngest Millennials should have a lot more knowledge of history but they have no reason to give a fig about the O.C. Chuck or Knight Rider or the Elvis for that matter any more than I need to care about Al Jolson

        Also “big media” is dying and its quite possible just as it was in the past for people to not be exposed to the same pool. I have a millennial friend who just hit 30 and while he is a nerd just like me, the stuff he watches is so different than what I enjoy that often as not I am just saying “what is that?”

        If it weren’t for history videos on YouTube we would have nothing media wise in common. I don’t even watch the latest superhero movies though like Rick and Morty I know what they are.

    • I am always surprised at the amount of new films being made with big budgets. All the old films are easier to find than ever before, in good watchable condition now most things have been digitally archived on both legal and illegal websites. Being old they are slightly less pozzed with social justice. Now that big hd the are in most homes I don’t know why anyone pays movie tickets to fund the weirdness of priests.

    • That’s probably because of the MASSIVE increase in the amount of media out there for consumption.

      I’d argue that it’s simply impossible to keep up. I’m in my mid-50s now, but starting when I was a teen I tried to pay attention to popular culture and all of the movies and music that’s out there. I had a pretty good handle on things until probably about 10 years ago, when quite frankly it just became overwhelming – added to that , I probably started losing interest as well.

      Unless you’re a media junkie or Rainman – at this point it’s probably impossible to keep up with everything that’s out there.

  31. This is a bit from John Derbyshire We Are Doomed. It looks to me like we are actually living in a post empirical world. The proof of our senses no longer matters. What comes after materialism?

    “Not only was the U.S. government ignoring reality in Iraq, it was boasting of doing so. In October 2004 an unidentified aide to President George W. Bush told New York Times reporter Ron Suskind that guys like [Suskind] were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.””

    • Yes, I remember that quote. Sounds just like a little low level dickless aid that thinks he has ascended to Olympus to be with the gods. I wonder where that thing is now.

    • “… the unnamed official speaking to Suskind is widely known to be none other than the self-same architect of the aircraft-carrier moment, Karl Rove …”

      Danner, Mark (2007). “Words in a Time of War: On Rhetoric, Truth and Power”. in András Szántó. What Orwell Didn’t Know: Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics (First edition ed.). Philadelphia, PA: PublicAffairs Reports. pp. 17. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Karl_Rove

      Is the “Deep Fake” they’re talking about these days the next step in the evolution of “created reality”? Will False Flags and political subterfuge be taken to a whole new level?

      • “We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

        “Will False Flags and political subterfuge be taken to a whole new level?”

        Of course. Without a doubt. “They” will stop at nothing, and are particularly adept at shapeshifting reality. They are shapeshifters keeping us drugged, fat and stupidly distracted. Drugs everywhere…insulin spiking fat inducing food everywhere with our smartphone in hand. Erf!
        And speaking of old Turd Blossom, McRomney is fundraising for “a new leadership PAC” this week and Paul Ryan is backing this. Yah sure. What a lying couple of F-heads. Somebody help me…I need a much better word to describe RINO squishes that takes it to the depths of treachery.

        “As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
        There are only four things certain since Social Progress began. That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

        And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins. When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

    • It was clear from the get-go. The Beltway/MIC crowd became fabulously wealthy sending the proles off to fight for what? How do we reclaim our country?

    • I actually quite like that quote, it’s very close to the mark. Kissinger said that a statesman is ‘navigating in the dark’, unable to precisely foresee the consequences of his actions.

      Judicious students of discernible reality are no more prescient than Dr. K., but erroneously believe their Marxist theories let them peer into the future.

      Nothing demonstrates Rove’s axiom more dramatically than the fall of the Soviet Union. Three years before the SU ceased to exist, nobody in policy wonkery had the slightest idea what was coming. Today, they can all explain confidently, why it was absolutely inevitable.

    • Rove is one of the most contemptible war criminals of the age . he was the guiding hand in the enforcer of the donor takeover of the GOP . He also ran and directed all of the W war debacles. He collected giant pools of donor money into a few super PAC’s , then Primaried any congressman or senator who didn’t do the cheap labor warmonger bidding. He also used the money to run primary campaigns against any actual outsiders running. He is the hand in the Paul Ryan Mitch McConnell puppets

      • Rove is one of the most contemptible war criminals of the age .

        So was Kissinger, but that didn’t stop him from being a genius.

        Rove is not of Kissinger’s calibre, but he’s still quite brilliant. One of his masterpieces was when he made Bush II say that the French had no word for ‘entrepreneur’. It triggered a two-week long mockfest, where the Cloud People screamed out their hate and contempt for people who didn’t speak French.

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