It is a bit depressing, as someone who earns a living working with various forms of traditional and new media, to hear some rather startling revelations in this three-minute video brought to us from Advertising Age Magazine. (Sorry, no embed access.)
The video discusses mainstream media’s “content crisis,” offering the viewpoint that, as media get more and more competitive for advertisers, which means first being more and more competitive for eyeballs, they need to generate interest and passion in a way that “unbiased” media cannot. As a result, in order to find niche audiences that advertisers can put in a bucket and market to, traditional media, it is argued, need to pick sides. Do you want to be a liberal publication, or conservative? Do you want to be a religious medium, or secular? Do you want to love the Red Sox, or the Yankees?
There is no middle ground here, is the point that is being made here by many of the panelists. Unbiased journalism tries to be all things to all people, and it can’t—not in the modern era.
There is not a lot of money in unbiased journalism.
This is not my father’s Oldsmobile. This isn’t even MY Oldsmobile.
I remember this wonderful thing called the free press. You know, journalism in its purest form? News was a product of consumption, not because of bias or sensationalism or agenda, but because the news—information—was of value to us. To think that this recollection reflects the childish nostalgia of a bygone era is somewhat disheartening.
While I agree that niche marketing is something many media outlets need to pursue, I hope that traditional mainstream media would find this avoidable. Or, if being biased is the only way to survive in the modern era, I would only ask that each media outlet clearly and publicly express its agenda and bias, and let me decide if what they’re peddling as news is really worthy of my attention. We as consumers don’t like to be lied to…or played with. Give us the straight dope and we will be loyal…or not. (We may be loyal to the opposing medium’s biases.) But at least we’ll be able to discern the real news from the biased journalism.
If it bleeds, let it lead. Just don’t lead us on.