Comment | How the economics of the news business has changed the news


Opinion

In inconvenient times—for example, right now—nostalgia can be narcotic. But it makes sense to look back nostalgically at the days when newspapers were filled with ads for department stores, grocery stores, and car dealerships.

And news, mostly sad: the world has fallen, and as journalists say, we don’t report on planes that land safely. Still, newspapers were more relevant and functioned differently when they were heavily supported by advertisements for local businesses, not just because of digital subscriptions by readers.

So Andre Mir argues in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, “How the Media Politicized Us.” The title of the lead essay considers “media” and “newspapers” as its primary topic. But social media and cable television have drawn newspapers to them.

Mir, the author of “Post-Journalism and the Death of Newspapers,” says the Internet is to blame because the monopoly that syndicated newspapers to advertisers has destroyed the broad audience that advertisers value – the rich, mature type of readers. Mir believes that newspapers’ “reliance on advertising has determined their attitude towards their readers”. It was a respectful attitude towards readers who want to make their own decisions and oppose advanced political agendas in reporting.

The collapse of the newspaper advertising-based business model began with the migration of classified ads to the Internet. In the year In 2000, they gave newspapers $19.6 billion—about one-third of the paper’s revenue. In 2013, Google’s $51 billion in advertising revenue eclipsed the $23 billion in total advertising revenue of American newspapers. In the year In 2018, dividend income was just $2.2 billion. According to Mir, advertisers conclude that newspaper advertising is “the most expensive and ineffective way to kill their audience.” And advertising revenue began to lag far behind readership revenue.

“Even America’s strongest newspapers can’t keep up with advertisers: The New York Times started making more money from readers than from advertising in 2012,” Mir said. Therefore, “journalism now needs new partners”: digital subscriptions, the reproduction of which can be driven by anger and fear, fertilizers of polarization. Organizers said, “Stir the digitized, urban, educated and progressive youth to the point of political anger.”

Newspapers’ advertising-based business model, which appeals to the middle class of society, has “tamed the natural liberal bias of journalists.” The digital subscription business model has “elevated the role of the organizers of progressive discourse” — academics and other social justice warriors — and “activism as a think-tank.” The new model is defined as “the strength of self-expression in response seeking.” In the year By the early 2010s, “the need to appeal to the average American dictated by advertising,” says Mir, replaced the pursuit of digital subscriptions from motivated readers.

The “awareness level” – 60 percent of the group of people who use social media – reached 2011 for urban, college-aged 18- to 49-year-olds. A more conservative demographic provided mainstream media with a commodity they could sell to digital subscribers in the political earthquake year of 2016 — Donald Trump as an “existential threat.”

Suddenly, according to Mir, subscriptions can be claimed as “donations to a cause” — “protests” and more. “Fear came to replace news as a commodity.” This new business model “made the media polarizing agents.” The right-wing media quickly learned the new game of selling fear instead of news – fear of demographic “replacement”, K-12 political and sexual indoctrination, etc.

Mir believes that all this has created “post-journalism”, in which the mainstream media does not provide news, but “news verification”, confirming news that disturbs “within certain value systems”. This business model – the media as “polarizing agents” – leads to the fragmentation of newspapers because, according to Mir, it gives huge rewards to a few nationally important newspapers:

“People want to have bad news notarized by a more compliant authority. Audiences only want to pay for mainstream media, e.g New York Times Or The Washington Post. … Most of the subscriber money flows into a few behemoths. The new subscription model has led not only to media polarization, but also to media attention.

Mir says that while journalism wants the image of the world to fit the world, “post-journalism wants the world to fit the picture.” This is, “the definition of propaganda. Post-journalism has turned the media into a busy ministry of truth. Although painted with a broad brush and few pastels, there is an adjective that fits the description for today’s media world: newsworthy.



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