Friday, May 19, 2017

Figuring Out What Is Happening In The Russian Investigations

Figuring out what is happening in the Russian investigations is almost impossibly hard, for several reasons. 

First, the media industry is in dire straits, given that it can no longer reliably use advertising revenue to fund the news production and given that it has not been able to find an alternative viable funding plan*.  This means, among other things, that every journalist must write click-bait articles, to get as many eyeballs as possible to look at a particular piece of writing, and even if there's nothing worthy of so many eyes in the article itself. 

Thus,  I have recently read "new revelations" which came out months ago, or "revelations" which are speculations.  Real revelations can drown in that sea of noise.

Second, the conservative media tries its utmost to toss out alternative stories, different click-bait, to stir the pot and to confuse the audience.  Instead of some type of public debate or conversation, we have a war of words.

Third, the journalists who write boring, carefully sourced and thrice checked articles are the journalists without an audience. 

That is very sad.  It's partly the consequence of the trend Roger Ailes began where loud arguments and opinion pieces replaced news at Fox News and later, by osmosis, influenced the way news is covered in other media outlets, too.   But it's partly also this new era where everyone can be a citizen journalist, where nobody needs to learn how one verifies something and where a lie indeed has orbited the world many times before truth has its hobnailed boots laced up.

And, finally, its partly because too many Americans follow politics as consumers rather than as citizens, and because that following then depends on how entertaining it is.


*  When I talk about that online the usual answer is that people would be willing to pay for news if they only were better quality news.  The problem with that answer is that it's not true, given the public goods nature of information.  As long as we can get the information without paying for it, that is what we will do.

Sadly, that response is rational in the short-run, but in the long-run it means the end of news production as a properly vetted process.  (I'm preparing you all for my blog funding week which begins this coming Monday!  Give often!)