I don’t take money from advertisers for things I write. Nobody has ever paid for my opinion. To be forthright – It would probably be a bad investment because it changes so often. Still, at every turn a great many people suspect that I get cash for some of the stuff I blog in a favorable light because they’re superficial bastards. And they struggle to imagine the concept that personal expression on the Internet is far more important than profit.
Don’t get me wrong, I write nice things about the people I like and don’t feel the need to disclose any of my relationships online. The practice of confessing on the Internet is something best left to housewives and other unproductive people.
Nevertheless, because media is no longer constricted to a physical form and nobody wants to pay for content anymore . . . The future of anyone who wants to get seriously paid for what they write is to sell their soul for the privilege.
Maybe it’s not that bleak. Only a dimwit or a newspaper ombudsman would contend that there hasn’t always been a complex and mostly unequal relationship between traditional media and advertisers. The Golden Rule always applies: the people with the gold make the rules.
Here’s my contention: Media watchers are completely undeserving of disclosure as to how content is delivered to them given that fact that they don’t want to pay for its online ubiquity. It’s an idea that’s based on expediency and given the fact that this nation was founded on doing things the easy way rather than obeying laws, treaties or keeping promises – I think history is on my side. Those who question my thesis regarding the establishment of the American Empire through a systematic devotion to expediency above all are welcomed to ask the last remaining Native Americans if I’m wrong. Supposing there are any to be found nearby.
This media theory of expediency speaks to a question of ethics among content publishers in the digital age. While it’s laughable to look for high ideals beyond close friends and family, I’ll entertain the notion. I don’t take money for my opinion but there are probably those who don’t believe that statement (for shame!). Here’s the deal: I don’t care. The Long Tail Internet Theory tells us that there’s a niche for every kind of content in the digital era. Audiences come cheaper than ever nowadays and the smarter internet players are finding out that the ability to “monetize” a crowd is mainly dependent on nothing more than salesmanship and macro economic factors. That has more to do with the U.S. fighting an endless war in Afghanistan than the quality or perception of any media outlet. Just like the old days, the cutthroat media business will leave most people behind and only a few players will survive and prosper. Meanwhile content disseminated online will become more segmented, customized and much less profitable. Also, I usually attract a much bigger crowd for putting my thumb in the eye of Kansas City than I ever did for reporting stuff accurately.
As for concerns regarding credibility and quality of the news and content we can find online. Just like in the era of traditional media, the masses will settle with the offerings they find least objectionable. Clueless idealists who dream of an impractical world where money doesn’t influence the content which it sponsors might still struggle to accurately find any real world example of their high minded (and completely misinformed) ideas. Meanwhile, most people on the Internet are far more interested in piano playing cats.