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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Can The Mainstream Media Survive?

This is a column by Jaffer Ali of EVTV1.com. Enjoy this great read:

"...the American press failed the Constitution. We were jingoistic. And that was a terrible failing. I'm asked the question all the time: What happened to my old paper, the New York Times? And I now say, they stink. They missed it. They missed the biggest story of the time and they're going to have to live with it."

--Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winner on Iraq War Coverage

In 1992, James Carville ran the Clinton campaign and put up a sign in their "war room" that proclaimed; It's The Economy, Stupid. In one cryptic phrase, Carville encapsulated upon what their campaign needed to focus.

Carville knew what was important. Lack of focus is a common problem and in today's media environment, an incredible amount of information abounds. There is so much distraction that we are sorely in need of another cryptic phrase to bring clarity to the chaos. Let me propose; It's The Content, Stupid.

Information is delivered through mulitple platforms that include consuming media on your phone, iPod, computer at work and of course the old standby – television. But main- stream media companies (MSM) are confused as they lose audience share. They cannot understand what is happening to them, therefore are looking for love in all the wrong places.

They have misdiagnosed the problem. It is not the technology platform that is making audience shares shrink. It is the nature of the content and new competition from media outlets that are not part of the exclusive corporate club.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the news media. Newspapers, radio, television and cable are all losing audience. If you believe this is because of new technology platforms as many of the cognoscenti remain convinced, the sickness cannot be cured because It's The Content, Stupid.

In the opening quote by Seymour Hersh, he was not speaking about technology. He was speaking about the content that the NY Times prints. And he is right. Is it any wonder that the Times is losing readership? There are hundreds of alternative information sources that got the Iraq story right. These alternative outlets didn’t fail. And these online sites are growing, taking audience share away from the MSM.

The news media in the US serves a function that is really not discussed in polite conversation. It serves corporate interests of those who advertise with them. We easily recognize that the Iranian News Agency is serving interests other than the public good. When the Soviet Union had TASS, everybody understood that this was a news agency dedicated to serving the interests of the Soviet Union.

Having for a time personally lived under a monarchy with my aunt, who was charged with reading the daily news on radio and then television, everybody in the Kingdom understood that the news reflected the interests of the monarchy. For us in America, we can easily spot how media reflects other interests when it is someone else’s country and another country's media.

But it was more difficult to see how the media delivered news designed to go to war with Iraq…and most likely with Iran soon. The news served corporate interests and certainly not the public good. Ross Perot once said that "you have to commit the nation first before you commit the troops." The media is needed to achieve this function. It is bought and paid for to achieve this goal.

But a growing number seem to understand even if they cannot articulate it. Audiences are fleeing the MSM to seek information outside the mainstream. It is not the new technology that is captivating them. It's The Content, Stupid.

With alternative sources of information available online, the MSM has lost its collective stranglehold on information and people are seeking other sources because they sense something is not quite right.

When the MSM became drones for WMDs in Iraq as a casusbelli against Iraq, there were plenty of alternative voices suggesting that the proof did not exist. And of course these alternative news sources were proven correct. Similarly today, we have the mainstream press repeating the falsehood that the Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that "Israel must be wiped off the map" with the alternative media correcting the record.*

The mainstream news media is functioning as a quasi state-run organization reminiscent of TASS and others mentioned earlier. If alternate media sources can find the exact translation of the Ahmadinejad's phrase, or insist on
proof of the existence of WMDs before billions of dollars are spent and hundreds of thousands of lives lost, it is not the technology that is at fault for declining audience shares at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox. It's The Content, Stupid.

When Rosie O'Donnell turned The View toward discussing issues ranging from the 9-11 Truth movement to critiquing the Iraq War, audience share increased 7%, yet she left the show under questionable circumstances.** Audience share most likely increased because of the content. But that content conflicted with the prevailing corporate interests.

If MSM wants to reverse the slide of audience share, they would be wise to reward Rosie instead of banishing her. It must also be understood that technology is not the solution for eroding audiences; It's The Content, Stupid.

- Jaffer Ali



Footnotes:

* The exact words Ahmadinejad spoke in Farsi quoted the deceased Imam Khomeini "Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad."

He was quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini and the above translation is literally: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". [emphasis added]

** According to Wikipedia, "This season the show [was] averaging 3.5 million total viewers, a 7% increase from [previous] season." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_View

Jaffer Ali is the CEO of the video portal EVTV1.COM. He
has been involved with online media since 1997 and can be
reached at j.ali (at) EVTV1.COM

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2 Comments:

Blogger Anon-Paranoid said...

john...
Sorry this is off topic. I found this on another site and have been leaving it at some of the sites I link to.

This almost sounds like me if you listen real close.

Here's the reason the Democrats won't impeach Der Fuhrer Bush or the Dark Lord Dick {Heinrich Himmler} Cheney.

Watch this short YouTube of Ralph Nader explaining why.

No Impeachment.

We really don't have an opposition party.

God Bless.

title="comment permalink">October 18, 2007 10:44 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

he hit that one out of the ballpark! i rarely do anything other than scan headlines of the msm. for real news- i go to mcclatchy.

title="comment permalink">October 20, 2007 8:46 AM  

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