Over the weekend I checked in on the news and saw that a Soros rent-a-mob was causing trouble in Arizona, trying to disrupt a Trump rally. I did not see this on TV. I saw it on Twitter. I then went to Drudge who had some links.I then went to some other sites and then finally back to twitter to see and join in on the snarky commentary. I still have a TV subscription, but it did not occur to me to turn it on for the news.
I’m a big sports fan and I’ll watch just about anything. I used to joke that I’d watch ants wrestle if they put it on TV. There was a time when that was true, but as you get older the endless hype and proselytizing in games is tough to take. ESPN has become unwatchable because of it. The solution for me is I follow games on-line via various score sites and, of course, twitter. Once the game gets to crunch time I can watch it, often on-line.
The NCAA tournament is a great example. I used to love watching this thing and I still do, but I don’t watch it like I once did. Instead I have it on-line so I can keep tabs on the games and jump to the one that is going to have a tight finish. That way I skip all the nonsense hype and I can do other things while tracking the games. Again, part of it is age, but the bigger part is technology. I can now easily filter out the proselytizing and hype so I do.
In the political realm, I have not watched the Sunday chat shows in so long I no longer know their names or the performers they have playing the various roles. The evening shout shows are just about unknown to me now. I can consume all the political news I need on-line from sources that are more intelligent and interesting than anything conventional media has to offer.
There’s one other little thing to ponder before I get to the point. I have a vast music collection. Much of it came from the days when Columbia House would send you ten CD’s just because you filled out a card and gave them a fake name. Another big chunk came when “sharing” music got hot in the 90’s. I’ve also bought a lot of music too. I still do through Amazon, but as individual mp3’s, not physical disks.
I’m a Pandora user so when I hear a song I like, I’ll add it to my list and either buy it from Amazon or rip it from YouTube. I prefer to buy it, but if it means buying a whole CD then I steal it like a normal person. The only exception is classical or maybe some old blues where you want the digitally mastered quality, but otherwise I buy songs, not bundles of songs. I don’t want or need the extra. If it adds no value, I don’t buy it. Music has become commodified.
The music industry was collapsed by the mp3 and gnutella. Suddenly, the layers and layers of expense around the single song could be stripped away, unless it brought value. Most of it did not so it was slowly sloughed off. It did not happen without a fight, but it eventually happened. Performers are back making money performing and the music business is much smaller. The songs are now the marketing expense for the live shows in many cases.
We’re seeing something similar with the news media. A 40 minute podcast from John Derbyshire can be consumed anytime and anywhere. John is a super smart guy with a real talent for podcasting. He works out of a tree-house. Anthony Cumia is running a radio network from his basement now. Adam Corolla is a millionaire from podcasting. A lot of what is on new media is crap, but the best parts are vastly better than anything offered by traditional media. Most important, they are cheaper.
That’s the thing. The cost of reaching each customer is collapsing, which in turn is dropping the barrier to entry. Fox News exists because it can tax you through your cable bill. Cord cutting and ad hoc, on-demand video is the response to that, which drives up their cost of reaching each customer. On the other hand, a guy like Mike Cernovich can quickly raise money for a media project, because his costs are collapsing.
This brings me to Donald Trump. He posted something on twitter over the weekend about Obama’s trip to Cuba. Every news personality retweeted it and it probably reached ten million people in an hour. Donald Trump has 7.1 million twitter followers. The echo effect means he can reach tens of millions of people from his phone, blowing past the media industrial complex. In fact, he has enslaved them with twitter, turning them into his PR firm.
In some respects, Trump is the Napster candidate. He may not win, but he is blowing a hole in the system. The layers of barnacles on the news industry are a lot like the layers of waste in the music business. Technology is going to force a scraping off of these barnacles for the underlying entity to survive in the new mass media age. If you’re one of these barnacles. Trumpster is Satan, just as Napster was the great evil of the music business. But when it comes to technology, the news always displaces the old.