The end of MSM power
‘Fake news’. It’s the current big news not just in the USA and Britain, but in every Western nation in the world. The liberal elite all tell us that the reason for this is that ‘fake news’ is the weapon of choice for Vladimir Putin in a cunning plan to ‘destabilise’ the West. Exactly how a few (allegedly) unfounded allegations of Satanic sexual abuse or secret rule by the Lizards are supposed to do more harm to Western democracy than has already been done by the corrupt and incompetent political elites and their greedy corporate puppet-masters, is not explained.
More sophisticated political analysts have pointed to the fact that the ‘mainstream’ media outlets currently spreading fake news about Fake News are doing so because they are deeply alarmed at the way the uncontrolled, and essentially uncontrollable, Internet has broken their monopoly on the ability to deliver information to, or withhold it from, the public, and to control popular discourse on current events.
As we saw with both Trump and Brexit, this has already shattered the once iron grip of the liberal elite on opinion-forming and hence on election results. And, to make matters even more alarming for the liberals, there are already strong signs that the new generation coming of age in the post-MSM world are – thanks presumably to the plethora of alternative sources of news and opinions online – showing a marked resistance to the old liberal conditioning which made their parents’ generation such obedient consumers of liberal pap. This is a sea-change; potentially a revolution.
This is no surprise. The liberal corporate media’s grip on news dissemination and opinion-forming provided the essential foundations of the liberal political consensus. Just as naked totalitarianismswere founded on physical control through the power of the gun, so their liberal counterpart was based on mind control through the power of the media. Take away the foundations, and everything that is built on them will collapse. Not instantly, but over a period, the length of which will partly be determined by the occurrence or absence of shocks and challenges to the system.
These facts are very clearly all part of the reason for the current liberal MSM hysteria about ‘fake news’. But, as with any significant development in a capitalist society, the recommendation to ‘follow the money’ is always likely to provide some additional very practical reasons for what is going on.
Here too, several commentators have considered the way in which the circulation of mainstream newspapers, and the audiences of most mainstream broadcasters, are in freefall. The explosion of choice and information online, and of mobile devices with which to access it, has taken away the old need to buy a physical copy or watch the same ‘mainstream’ news.
Faced with this challenge to their old monopoly, it is was only a matter of time before the bosses and editors of the old media ordered a full-scale assault on their upstart ‘Alt-Media’ rivals. It is if anything somewhat odd that they didn’t do it several years ago but, there again, they have ruled the information world for so long and have got so large and powerful while doing so that it was perhaps only to be expected that, in the end, they would come to resemble the biggest, dullest dinosaurs and fail to notice or take seriously the irritating but fleet of foot and inventive little mammals scurrying around beneath their feet and quietly eating their eggs.
Still, they have certainly woken up to the danger now, and they’ve declared war on the Alt-Media. It didn’t take Einsteinosauros to work out that Facebook is by far the most important ecosystem being exploited by the newcomers. Hence the most obvious thrust of the current artificial hysteria about ‘fake news’ is to frighten the political elites into some sort of action intended to regulate Facebook and drive out ‘unauthorised’ news. Whether one calls it ‘fake news’ or the ‘inconvenient truth’ doesn’t matter at this point, what counts is the intention to get rid of it.
The second prong of their attack is to scare the big brand advertisers into pressuring the agencies that place adverts on online newsfeeds, YouTube accounts and such like, into boycotting ‘right-wing’ outlets. These range from the notorious Macedonian teenagers who supposedly produce clickbait stories right through to Breitbart. The MSM believe is that if their operations can be de-monetised, they will shut up shop.
In fact, most of the many thousands of people working in ‘Alt-News’ do so out of deep ideological conviction, as a hobby or because, in the case of the bigger players, particularly the hugely sophisticated neocon/Zionist cyberspace presence, they are financed to change public opinion. In every case, therefore, the income is a useful little bonus, but it’s not really the point or the driving force.
The very fact that the media and political elites think that effective censorship is possible, or that, if it is, that it will put things back to ‘business as usual’, only highlights just how little they understand the full extent of their plight, or the technological revolution in which it originates.
At the simplest level, the problem for the censors is that, as fast as they identify and blacklist ten sites, their operators will set up ten or twenty new ones. In games of whack-a-mole, some of the moles always get missed.
Then there’s the fact that censorship requires not just state action or lobbyist bullying, but also the co-operation of the owners of the platform to be censored. So let us return briefly to the question of Facebook. Think of it, if you will, as an expensive car. It is by far the most fashionable marque at present, but that doesn’t make it THE car. It is A car, the best on the market for now. And its competitors in the old media are so scared of it that they are trying to frighten the political elite into passing a law that the Facebook car has to operate with man with a red flag walking in front of it.
Their problem is that, if they impose such destructive restrictions on Facebook (which is at least controlled by one of their own) they will simply create a gap in the market for a new 'car', one whose Unique Sales Point is specifically that it rejects censorship. If full-scale censorship is imposed by Facebook, so that serious newsfeed sites like Breitbart are included among the victims, someone will build a new one, quickly.
The gap could in theory be filled by Russia’s VK, but it is a state-run venture. It was created in a country – and I write this as a Russophile - that seems in some commercial fields to have an ability to see what needs to be done but which, when it comes to innovation and business, seems too often to understand the form of an effective business, but not its real spirit. Let’s be blunt: VK works, but it looks like a 1990 model Lada. If it was rapidly upgraded and then promoted by Western marketing experts, it still could fill the gap. But if this is not done immediately, VK will miss the boat in terms of the opportunity to replace Facebook in the West.
So it is far more likely that the next generation vehicle at the heart of the AltNews phenomenon will be created by an American capitalist. In fact, it has probably already been created by a team close to Breitbart, but they won't launch it until Facebook has actually gone too far and committed suicide by censorship.
And, if by some most unlikely chance, the predatory beast that is American capitalism manages to miss such a golden opportunity, some 19-year-old in his bedroom will find a way to seize it. Hence, each time the elite censor and thus ruin a Facebook or a Twitter or a Reddit, they will at best get themselves a brief respite from their power to spread unwelcome ideas, but at the cost of creating the gap which will be filled by something even less controllable and even more viral.
There is an older historical analogy,which is of particular value in helping to explain this, because it also involved new technology that revolutionised the ability of humans to communicate across time and space: The printing press. When Mr Gutenburg and his imitators broke the previous virtual monopoly of the Church on the creation of books, the Papacy quickly saw the threat.
Unwelcome, even heretical ideas were suddenly spreading like wildfire through printed books and pamphlets. So the church rushed not only to set up its own presses and to churn out counter-propaganda, it also launched the most ambitious censorship plan in human history up until that point. It was decreed that all printing presses had to be licenced by the Catholic Church and, a little later, by most states. Even though many ‘illegal’ presses were smashed up, it was, predictably, impossible to enforce, though the attempt to do so undoubtedly fed the discontent that fuelled the Reformation.
The 16th century printing press was a serious piece of expensive technology and, for some considerable time, they numbered no more than a few per country. They could not be hidden, and the items they produced had to be distributed through networks of individual people, most of them walking from town to town. If censorship, sledgehammers and the rack couldn’t halt the intellectual revolutions unleashed by the printing press, then how much more unlikely is it that the old order can get cyberspace under control?
Now we come to the most important point of all. That is the technological leap at the very heart of the Alt-Media challenge to the old MSM. From their current obsession with ‘fake news’, it seems that many involved in the old industry still haven’t really understood the truly devastating nature of what they face. Perhaps this is not surprising, because it is going to be psychologically very difficult for them to face reality: That their entire business model has just been rendered totally and irrevocably obsolete.
Why? How? What is it? In a word, it is “profiling”. The fact that every single normal individual using the Internet leaves behind them a trail of information about themselves, their tastes, their purchases, their social and financial status. And, increasingly, all this information is being collected, collated, analysed and monetised. It is an advertiser’s best dream come true.
Imagine you are in charge of the advertising budget for Mercedes Benz. Your print archives are full of glossy magazines and copies of the main broadsheet newspapers in which your company has always placed beautiful, colour, full-page adverts. You can call up the same record of all the TV commercials in which generations of Mercs have accelerated away from elegant party venues to swish round corners on dramatic coast roads to take the ruggedly handsome drivers to their stunning model girlfriends.
The company sells the dream. And the dream sells the car. To an almost ridiculously small proportion of the people watching those commercials. Your advertising budget is being blown putting your product in front of millions of people who can’t drive, don’t own a car or have no interest in buying a car. You are reaching millions more who couldn’t afford to fill the tank, let alone buy the vehicle.
To mix the metaphor, such adverts are like taking a very expensive shotgun, sawing off the barrels, filling cartridges with gold shot, and then trying to hit a mosquito at 100 yards!It’s hard to imagine a more extravagant, wasteful and inefficient form of advertising. But you and all your competitors have been doing it for decades. Because it works, and because there was no alternative, no better way.Until now.
Because now, instead of spending all that money hitting all those people who are of no interest or value to you, you can use social media to target individuals whose profiles scream: “I am a potential buyer of a new Mercedes Benz”. You know that south east England is much richer than the north, so you don’t bother with the north (except for five postcodes around Manchester where the footballers and BBC executives all live). Then you narrow your targets down further: They need to live in streets where houses are worth more than an average of £1.5 million. But some of those are owned by rich old widows, who aren’t going to buy your new sports model, so you mine the data even further. Males.Between the ages of 40 and 60. And then you burrow down into what they do, what they earn, and if their children have all left home (because the new model is a two-seater).
If you’re feeling really manipulative, having obtained your target list of perhaps 40,000 prime targets, you could even probably find out which of these gentlemen prefer brunettes or red-heads to blondes and then line up the version of your new promotional video with the appropriate girl. Only then would you press the ‘send’ button, hitting perhaps 40,000 ultra-high value targets for a thousandth of the cost of the archaic system that everyone used to use.
The question is not whether advertisers are going down this road; the question is why there are still some – especially for luxury products – who have not already done so. Rest assured, though, that they soon will.
Not just with high value products either. Once the database is updated with the birth of a new baby, for example, its parents will be listed to receive age specific products for years to come. From nappies to teething gels, school clothes to laptops, Christmas presents to birthday presents (because the database will have the date). Some products will be chosen according to the family’s socio economic status. The rich will find adverts popping up on their online devices for private schooling and medical insurance, the poor will get reminders about PayDay Loans. Middle class parents will see CenterParcsadverts, manual workers will see special offers for Butlins.
And the more profiling and targeting is done, the more valuable the data will be, the more it will be collected, and the more accurate it will become. For the next few years, newspapers and magazines will reduce their advertising rates and try to hold on, but they will be fighting a rapidly losing battle. Their advertising revenues are already in sharp decline and, as the pace of change picks up, will go into freefall.
Commercial broadcasters will try to reinvent themselves by merging their TV stations with the Internet so that they can be interactive and find ways to offer targeted advertising. But at that moment they will become just another online news source; they will survive, but their special status as giants of the information world will vanish.
But printed newspapers and other publications that rely on advertising for the bulk of their income are dead men walking.
Which means that The Times can run as many hysterical attacks on ‘fake news’ as it likes, this former institution and bastion of the Establishment is doomed. And trying to keep up its circulation by giving it away free in airports won’t make a blind bit of difference, because the new technology of profiling has made adverts in it virtually worthless.
So the newspapers too will go online, as indeed they are already doing. Their names will survive, but they too will lose their new mythic status as empires of news provision. Each one will become just another online newsfeed, in direct competition with – and no longer particularly distinguished from - thousands of independent outlets.
Returning to the present, even if the Times and Channel 4 did manage to get all their online newsfeed rivals strangled, the online advertising agencies will simply switch their clients’ money elsewhere online. If not through news, they’ll use entertainment or gambling or pornography or, not so many years down the line, some social media development involving holograms which makes Facebook walls, Vines and 140 characters on Twitter as outdated as the Amstrad or the typewriter.
To sum it all up, let us return one last time to the car analogy. Imagine for a moment that it is 1920. You are in business as a horse dealer and farrier (the sort of blacksmith who shoes horses – note how a word once in common use at the heart of the economy is now a specialist term). Already, competition from the newfangled motorcar is eating into your profits. The dealers and farriers with less than perfect reputations are already going to the wall (just as the relentless lying and condescending propaganda of the mainstream media has been a major factor pushing readers and viewers towards the AltMedia).
You can see what’s happening. Indeed, members of your trade association are trying to lobby your local MP to increase motor tax and impose speed restrictions – anything to try to stop the threat of the motor car and lorry to your business model. After all, your father was a horse dealer. His father was a horse dealer. There have been horse dealers at the centre of life in your town since the day it was given its Market Charter in the days of good King Richard. It is unthinkable that this is all about to change and your business is about to die. Unthinkable? No! Inevitable. And so is the fate of any commercial operation which has untargeted advertising revenue at the centre of its business model.
In the case of the horse dealers, the farriers, the draymen and the ploughboys, it was progress, but it was also a shame to see ancient ways of life and the romance of the horse pass into history. In the case of the Times, Channel 4 and their equivalents - all railing against the Alt-Media in every country in the West – it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of lying, bullying,warmongering liberal scumbags!