Articles

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Building Our Own Media

There have been suggestions floating around that some of the bigger donors should buy a newspaper, a television network or a women's magazine to counter the media's grip. There was a time when a powerful media outlet could be bought or created by conservative owners and function and wield influence over national policy. Time Magazine in the Luce era is one example. But that was when the media was a patchwork of publications and radio stations where powerful owners often set the tone.

Today the media is more of an integrated beast that is mostly localized on the internet. It's a giant echo chamber for talking points developed by left-wing think tanks and memes popularized by social media mobs.

NBC News these days is less relevant than Buzzfeed. You could buy NBC News, but then what would you have? A white elephant operation whose dwindling viewers are older and either share its biases or don't care. If it shifted to the right, it would have exactly the same image as FOX does, no matter what its standard of programming was. If it tried to be genuinely non-partisan, there would be the difficult task of finding staff who are honestly non-partisan. And its image would constantly be under attack by the left every time it dissented on a major story.

Imagine if Donald Trump bought the New York Times. The New York Times doesn't derive its influence from the quality of its content, but from the quantity and scope of it. That quantity and scope seem dizzying to those who don't know any better, much like Thomas Friedman's familiar mentions of three countries and their airports in one paragraph makes him seem like a man of the world who must know what he's talking about because he has been to so many countries.

The New York Times influences other papers and outlets to adopt its tone on a variety of topics from musicals to foreign affairs. That makes them, in current ad jargon, Thought Leaders, which is just as Orwellian as it sounds. That cements the Times' place in the culture. But it's a position that would vanish in a second if Donald Trump took over and began influencing content. All that would be left is an expensive and unprofitable white elephant without any of the influence.

What we think of as the mainstream media is an integrated whole. It's not really a series of outlets, but a culture of left-wing activists and more mainstream liberal reporters and pundits who provide content to those outlets. Buying one of the outlets would punch a hole in their content network, but only a partial hole because the outlet would still likely be reliant on wire services and would mostly cover the same stories that are driven by that same network, but occasionally from a conservative angle. It would essentially be another FOX News.

The content distribution network would reform around it, shut it out, as it has shut out FOX News, though many of its members would still work for it, and continue driving the tone and content of the media's coverage of any issue. And it's the content network and its culture that is the real enemy.

This isn't just true of official news outlets, but any tastemaker outlets, such as women's magazines, which would once again be shut out, ridiculed and marginalized as the media culture works to wipe out the credibility of rival opinion-makers and the cool of rival tastemakers. And since both news and fashion depend on consensus, trying to challenge it with a single outlet will only make a limited difference. It will have an impact. FOX News certainly has. But that impact will be limited, unless, like talk radio, it becomes a culture of content creators creating a consensus across different outlets.

What we are battling is a consensus creation machine. That machine spews out news stories and memes always making sure to integrate the consensus into as much of its coverage as it can. That way the latest consensus on gun violence can be rolled out everywhere from snarky blogs to drive time news to network news to magazines and sites catering to women, car owners and science fans.

Each group will have the consensus targeted to their demographic. NBC News will talk about the dangers of school shootings. Blogs will describe gun owners as psychopaths. A site aimed at women will talk about how often abusive husbands shoot their wives. The science site will discuss the latest technology for gun locks thought up by a 9th grader from San Francisco. Most of you have already seen this consensus manufacturing and distribution machine in action.

The good news is that the internet has allowed the right to develop its own form of consensus distribution. The problem is that it's mainly ideological. Conservative news sites and blogs create and pass along a consensus, sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but it doesn't tend to go any higher up the ladder than FOX News or Talk Radio. Buying a major outlet would give it another place to go, but it wouldn't fundamentally change the uneven balance in the media culture war.

The Breitbart approach of directly attacking the consensus by creating stories that the media is forced to acknowledge, thereby shaking its consensus, is invigorating. But the left's success has largely come from the creation of a media consensus culture. Challenging it is not impossible, but it will take a lot of work over a long period of time, rather than a quick fix solution.

Buying an old media outlet, like a magazine, a newspaper or a news network is a poor value. These outlets have an aging readership and a white elephant infrastructure. Their only truly valuable part is their brand. And the brand will begin taking a vicious beating the moment it drops out of the left's consensus network. The brand does have value. Newsweek in conservative hands would have been a useful weapon, but not a consensus-killer.

The consensus is a swarm, it's a mob. Fighting it with one outlet is like trying to fight off bees with a baseball bat. Some bees will be swatted and you'll be stung and the outcome will depend on whether you can absorb more venom than you can kill bees. It makes for a nice last stand, but not much else.

Countering one consensus with another is a problem that requires crowd solutions. And they already exist. The conservative consensus of social media, blogs and news sites is the talk radio of the net. Conservative news sites already distribute that content, and while they could use better designs, the basis structure of the consensus is in place. The next step is to begin expanding the consensus into the non-political sphere to target not just low-information voters, but people that are not strongly political.

Buying a woman's magazine is of limited use now. Communities of interlinked conservative fashion bloggers whose content is indexed and collected by professional front end sites can have the same result at a fraction of the price and while turning a profit. Apply the same approach to everything from science, Latino, local and car sites, and you suddenly have something that is becoming a match for the mainstream media and its culture of consensus. And all this can be done at a fraction of the cost of buying Cosmo or NBC News or the New York Times.

We aren't fighting media outlets, we're fighting people. You can't fight people with money. You can only fight them with people. And the people are here. We just have to use them.

The Romney Campaign's big mistake was relying on big dumb sledgehammer media tactics, spending more money to do less, while neglecting the people on the ground. If the Republican Party is to compete, then it has to learn from that at every level. Think small. Look at the individual. Bring together committed individuals into organizations where they cooperate and make things happen, instead of viewing them as piggy banks for end of the year donations. That is what made the Tea Party work. It is the only thing that has any hope of revitalizing the Republican Party and the right.

A culture war is a shouting match. It's not so much a war of ideas as a war of slogans that are embedded in everything. The left has too much top-down control to be directly beaten at that level. It can be challenged and occasionally humiliated, as Breitbart had done, but it still remains in place. If the left is going to be beaten, it will be from the bottom up by empowering the people who want to fight, rather than just building more expensive operations while ignoring the ground game.

Conservatism will only win out by empowering committed people and giving them the tools to organize in various ways and on various levels to challenge the consensus. It is the organization part that is most important and it is the place where the establishment can do the most good by providing the framework and the tools to package individual contributions into a professional group package.

Creating an alternative media is as simple as channeling the conservative consensus into segmented professional outlets through brand-creation, web design and a certain degree of start-up funding, much of which can be supplemented by advertising for successful sites. These sites need not be and should not be competitors for existing political sites, rather they would be general topic sites that would target specific demographics, with relevant content for their group, whether it's video gamers or people looking for reality show coverage, while also embedding a certain political worldview.

Rather than trying to compete with a single major outlet or with a hundred conservative political outlets all targeted at the same base, the goal would be to expand that base and influence opinions across a wider range. It would be easiest to start with those groups that are already leaning our way, for example young white men and women, and expand an existing lean into a consensus. Similar efforts should be made with Chinese-Americans and Indian-Americans, two groups that came out big for Democrats and whose population share is growing, but whose interests lie with us.

All this is feasible. It's just a matter of shifting from frustrated attacks against mainstream media to becoming the mainstream media. The licenses and print distribution networks that make the media so powerful and that account for much of its sunk cost are becoming less relevant in the age of the mobile internet readership. All that's left are brands supported by an integrated content distribution consensus. And brands are based on content and can be challenged with content. The content exists, so does the talent, all that is needed is to package and channel it into our own media.

40 comments:

kriskxx said...

Ya,but,Donald buying the NYT would 'smoke' the bee hive and agitate the Liberals - just call me an old white elephant

Some dude said...

As Darth Cader would say - "Impressive. Most impressive!"

lgstarr said...

My husband has repeatedly voiced his hope that big conservative donors would buy up some big media and has been very frustrated that no one has.

Wish we could have seen what Andrew Breitbart would have done in this regard, if anything.

I think the real secret is that the left got the schools decades ago and every graduating class goes out into the culture looking for like-minded media. They wouldn't be interested in anything else! Hollywood feeds the beasts and keeps them in the zoo after that.

Once in awhile one of the zoo keepers goes rogue (like David Mamet) but not often enough. G-d will have to crank up the fan so the shit gets off the ground and into our faces. Seems to be the only way we wake up, sadly, but all for our own good ultimately.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, a few issues.

1. Time magazine was once right wing, what would prevent key portions of this consensus you propose from going rogue and joining the Leftist consensus like Time did?

2. A major news network can be truly right wing and be a consensus generator. Sun News in Canada is a perfect example of pushing the general consensus to the right. Though a big part of that success was taking Leftist tactics to push the mainstream to the right. Maybe a harder right version of Fox that was truly hostile to Islam could accomplish the same in the USA.

3. The Obama administration has been flirting with enacting internet regulation. If this took place wouldnt any right wing consensus machine be shut down before it could mature?

4. The overwhelming majority of Thought leaders, and consensus building industries are completely under Leftist control, from the media to fashion to the Judiciary, and anyone who wants to become leaders in those industries must have the same views. How can we generate thought leaders who would have more right wing opions on a mass scale?

Anonymous said...

I agree with 99.8 percent of your article with a couple of exceptions.

" That is what made the Tea Party work. It is the only thing that has any hope of revitalizing the Republican Party and the right."

I don't think the Tea Party is working at all. IMHO many people associated with the group are simply too abrasive. That is a major turn off. The left also resorts to that as well. So where are conservatives who simply are not and never will be abrasive turn?

Is there a place for us in the Tea Party or some other party? Unaffliated with a group but who share conservative views?


Because the left pretty much has the masses in their grips they don't really seem to resort to conintelpro like tactics that I can see. I've seen it online and it isn't pretty.

Also, there must be some common ground with the left on issues of importance. Right now the gun issue is on the table and the subject of a great deal of shouting and arguing.


Meanwhile, as the left wants to ban guns another issue is brewing under the media radar--banning cameras. Cameras have become the new "guns" so to speak.

Just do an Internet search of government and photography and how the gov't views journalists in general and photogs in particular. It's downright scary. See how the gov't is now viewing journalists not citing liberal or conservative.


That should be a source of common ground with the left or at least liberals who value freedom of the press and expression, which again IMHO, is thought freedom. Liberals and Conservatives should be together on this.

The left is discussing this and as far as I can tell the right is ignorant of it. Wouldn't it be good to take an issue important to the left (gun control and media oppression) and report on the issues from a conservative perspective as well?

Wouldn't this act as a bridge to sort of make liberal leaning people view control in another way if the see the comparision between gun control and camera control?

First they came for the guns.

Then they came for the cameras

Then...what then?


Keliata

Anonymous said...

Any crack in the progressive meme is quikly shored up by pop culture. It is a miracle that anybody can resist it.

Anonymous said...

I think that had Beck or someone like him bought Current it might have had a significant impact. Instead one more anti American, anti Israel media source is given the opportunity to continue the lefts propaganda/brainwashing war. Actually with someone like DG involved it would have been more than just slightly influential and certainly provocative, not like a bland Fox.

Anonymous said...

What is the Current?

I don't think Beck would have been a good choice. Though he does make some good points at times his antics and general presentation style isn't what conservatives need.

On the other hand, if he bought a media outlet and worked only behind the scenes and had someone who can present the facts as thoughtfully without antics it would definitely get the conservative message across.


The key is to present the news through whatever media must be done in a rationa manner.


Keliata

Ex-Dissident said...

Keliata,
I read your comment and it is very thoughtful. One point that I disagree with is this idea of finding common ground with the left. Our goal is not to make peace with a bunch of fascists and therefore I would not try to strengthen them in any way. Rather, our common ground may exist with individuals who are currently being influenced by the left and that is our target audience. Maybe some are journalists but I would value going after their poorly informed readers much more.

AG said...

We have seen glimpses of the Left Wing Media reporting truth when absolutely necessary. We need to prey on that. If the Left Wing Media no longer has Republicans to blame for all of the Country's problems, then in order to protect themselves they will need to report the truth.

See the left is a bunch of Collectivists, and currently the country isn't one big Collective, they are made up of many smaller Collectives that sometimes line up. This was the downfall of the TEA Party; they were trying to jump into the Collectivist game by becoming a Collective that wasn't symbiotic with the other Left Wing Collectives. As Daniel illustrated last week, you can't out Liberal a Liberal.

So we need to expose the truth. Rather than attempting to create a movement within the movement, we should instead be focused on capturing the movement and shifting it towards our proper direction. The best way to do this remains allowing all the young Liberals who fell victim to Cult Like recruiters in the Left Wing Universities, live with the effects of Liberalism. Show them the flaws by making them live with the consequences of the flaws. These young Liberals are too young to remember Carter or FDR, so all they know is W and maybe HW, and their parents tell them about Reagan. But they really never lived in those days; all they know is what Liberals tell them. So let the Liberal Media continue to tell them that this Collectivist twaddle is what will save the country. And, as we know, when it fails, the Left Wing Media for purposes of self preservation will be forced to stop blaming Republicans for every Obama mistake, and report the truth. Thus, we will take the media back, and eventually the country. They made the bed, they should lie in it.

Leo said...

http://downorisitjustme.com/res.php?url=americanthinker.com
Yes, you are right americanthinker.com appears to be Offline!

Anonymous said...

There is no common ground with the Left. They do not tolerate dissent, like all tyranies and dictatorships.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Anonymous 1,

1. What would prevent it is that it wouldn't have an owner, it would be an ideological affinity group of cons/liberts

You would have to convert thousands of people over for that

2. A news network can have a role to play. FOX is useful, but I have my doubts that it can be enough of a counterweight to the entire media network.

3. About the same as if they begin deporting everyone to camps. But any regulation is likely to hit the big operators first, while resistance made up of groups of people is likely to hold up better.

4. That's my entire point. They become thought leaders because they are part of a consensus network. I am talking about building our own network.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

K.A. it's possible to make some common ground with the left on a civil liberties issue, the problem is that when the left is in power and decides it wants to abolish it, then that common ground goes out the window.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Anonymous 2, needs more cracking and more pressure which is where the tactic discussed in this piece comes in. Amplification through organization.

Trimegistus said...

One thing which conservatives must keep in mind is that the liberal media machine automatically dismiss (and demonize) any overtly "conservative" media outlet. "Fox" or "Breitbart" have become all-purpose sneer terms.

To build conservative alternative media, we have to be subtle. Build sites and channels which aren't explicitly conservative, so that they can't silence us.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Yes, that is a point I made here, but once the consensus begins taking off, then that will no longer matter.

Anon1 said...

What makes a person want to buck the tide at the expense of seeming uncool? The answer would shape the conservative approach to communications.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

cool is a product manufactured by a consensus

Anonymous said...

Sad but true Daniel:(

OT but there is a little known "war" in the country. The war on photography. It's chilling.

Left or Right there should be no tampering with the Constitution first or second especially. But you are right about what would happen if the left is in power. Camera control could be in our future. Silence those whose cameras and pens dare to disagree with the left.

Keliata


Here's an article on camera control


http://www.photographyisnotacrime.com/2012/12/06/homeland-security-and-fbi-release-document-once-again-labeling-photographers-as-potential-terrorists/

jenna said...


Daniel,
"whose content is indexed and collected by professional front end sites"

What is a "professional front end site"? What would it look like? How would it escape being dismissed as Conservative? Is there an existing model or would that also have to be created?

Anonymous said...

Trimegistus--I couldn't agree more.

Keliata

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

jenna, it means any professionally designed site, rather than the usual blog, facebook, etc

some of these sites would be "labeled", but we are dealing with sites that would be semi-casual, rather than a major outlet like FOX News

there would be too many of them to take down with the usual isolate and assault tactic

jenna said...

So you'd be relying on sheer volume and smoke and mirrors? Worth a shot. I believe Bill Whittle suggested something similar.

vladtepes2 said...

"Building Our Own Media" a good idea but "Our Own Media" can only be built upon the solid foundation of a redefined "ideology of Western Civilization".
Obviously there is something fundamentally wrong with the ideology of Western Civilization, or else it would not be having such a hard time standing up to the Left and Islam.

If Western Civilization does not contain within itself the seeds of it's own destruction, then at least it has flaws that make it so difficult to deal with the developments of the last hundred years, modern transportation that allows the populations of whole countries to be replaced so easily, modern communications that allow evil ideologies to sweep the globe in seconds, modern organizations that allow democracies and cultures that have been built up over thousands of years to be co-opted by unelected, unaccountable, semi-secret organizations, these are some of the fundamental forces of the modern world that Western Civilization hasn't yet evolved to survive.

Come up with the redefinition of Western Civilization that will inspire men more than the false promises of Islam or Marxism then our own media will have a message that will be successful.
The search for that redefinition of Western Civilization is what keeps me coming back to Sultan Knish and similar blogs.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Every civilization contains within it the seeds of its destruction, just as every human body does.

But this is not about doing the big work of ideas, but the low work of trying to take back corners of the culture away from the left and then expand that further and further to shake the grip that the left has on the culture.

That is a long process that will begin in impurity and then work to purify the culture.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Jenna, in part. The goal is to create more media spaces under our control, that would also draw in people who are not political and perhaps not even conservative, to build a counter-consensus

DenisO said...

Newspapers are a dying lot, and I believe that one big reason is that the news is no longer just news; it is polluted, at every level, by a known political view, and sometimes lies. The N.Y. Times used to be straight news, except for the Editorials, and readers knew they would get all the known facts of a story from the Times. Other newspapers subscribed for those respected Times byline stories. Ditto UPI, AP, Reuters, etc., and local newspapers no longer needed reporters except for local issues. All those sources no longer report pure facts, and the readers know it and, like me, refuse to waste their time reading propaganda little different from Al Jazeera.
The real question is whether their is a market for a "just the facts" paper again, that would be profitable and attractive to capitalists. If there was a real choice, readers would prefer to read the unvarnished truth when they wanted news. They can get political views elsewhere.
Regards,

Anonymous said...

Why did a National Review conference have Joe Scarborough as a conservative speaker for the media? When Crystal and Lowry spoke during the election cycle, I cancelled my subscriptions to their magazines, NR and Weekly Standard after subscribing since forever. It seems that new editors at WSJ and Forbes are leftist. Demint at Heritage stated that Harry Reid was a good friend of his. Help. Drowning. Need "rays of hope".

Anonymous said...

That may be comforting to us, but won't convince those pickled in the progressive sewer.
SWARTZ

lemon lime moon said...

Interesting idea

Anonymous said...

Leaflets and Meetings and Protests worked in 1776 and still work today. Online media can augment and expand those basic tools.


Samuel H.

Ex-Dissident said...

I like your idea a lot; it gives some hope...but I don't think we'll have the time to implement it. I think we will probably start shooting at one another before you can feel any significant impact from this plan. You need at least a generation, maybe several for this idea to spread and become influential. We don't have that long.

dwight said...

If Jabotinsky had never existed, someone would have to make him up to describe you, I do declare. He was to newsprint and land lines what you are to newmedia and cell towers. I trust this sort of gushing leaves you mildly nonplussed, at worst, or vaguely disgusted, at best. Flattery is the sincerest form of aggression. Those who get too big to ignore are frequently co-opted through their own consensus. You're going to get very big.

"Question Consensus"

...they won't like it...they hate authority.

Hey! They like it!



Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

ex-dissident, it takes much less time than that, I'm not proposing things that will make a difference in 20 years, but in the next 4-5

dwight, I don't rank myself anywhere near that level. And I doubt I'm going to get very big. I'm surprised that I've gotten this big.

Anonymous said...

Humble, just like Moshe:)

Keliata

Anonymous said...

I Jabotinsky were here today he would be saying "Silence is Filth." Speak the truth. Speak period. Overtly or covertly.

Keliata

Anonymous said...

*If

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea Samuel. You'd be surprised how often I see leaflets on the bus. Unfortunately, they are for the Socialist Party something about labor and workers rights. Even with Ipods and mp3 etc. people do tend to read while they're on the bus.

No idea if this is the case with subways.

I write offline for a free weekly community newspaper and you'd be surprised what an impact it has with the public and politicians who must answer to the public to get votes listen.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of other advantages to be exploited. The underdog or counterculture meme is very strong in our society.
Celebrity figures have started coming out as conservatives. They are very powerful opinion makers and should be encouraged however possible.
Oldbrowser

Post a Comment