Mainstream Media Vs. New Age Media
Mainstream Media particularly Newspapers are facing a structural decline, even as new age media like Blogs grows. The growth of the Internet which has made it possible for everyone to become a publisher at almost no cost, has made the living of mainstream media impossible. Many of them are trying to embrace the new forms of media by starting and buying blogs (AOL buying Huffington Post), starting to publish popular serials through online video sites (Hulu). However most of the old mainstream media entities will not survive this paradigm change.
The reason is that many of the new age media entities are not driven by the profit motive alone. Writing of Blogs and expressing your opinion/views by itself fill the purpose of many blog writers. While there are many blogs/websites which run on profit motive alone, most blogs are driven by the love of teaching, interacting and discussing. Also journalists lack the knowledge and authenticity of the blog writers. This makes them particularly disadvantaged, as a financial journalist can never hope to compete with a 20 year financial veteran who writes a blog. Even popular and big media outlets like Financial Times and the Economist are feeling the heat from the New Age Media which is more knowledgeable and totally free. Here is an article from Pragmatic Capital which inspired this post by me.
And that got me thinking about why blogs are often so much more attractive than mainstream media sites. The MSM sites are in it for the profits. That’s really all there is to it. And they derive profit by driving traffic to the site. So controversy is often a big part of the game to drive traffic. The more controversial something is the more traffic it will garner, the more conversation it will attract, etc. If you waste your time writing articles about the monetary system and the comments are mostly just a few nerds trying to hash out the details then you don’t get the page views (being the chief nerd, I speak from experience here). I know what drives traffic to a website and I made a decision a long time ago that this website wasn’t going to be nothing but a traffic whore based on articles about politics, gold, Apple, porn and conspiracy theories about the national debt and Federal Reserve.
No, I was going to try and teach people something important about money, finance and the investment world. In other words, my goal wasn’t to drive the bottom line of the website (which, trust me, isn’t anything that I will retire off of). My goal was also to inform. Yes, there are intangible benefits from running the site, but I think this is one key area where blogs really trounce the MSM. There’s an element of the little guy being there for the rest of the little guys. I might not know many you, but I do care. And the things I write about are things I think are influencing all of your lives in some fashion. Not just things I want to jam down your throat so I can drive traffic.
Granted, there’s all sorts of potential negatives about blogs. The writing is often worse (I am a terribly writer) and we often make mistakes that professional journalists just don’t make (checking sources is one point here). But I think you get a certain sense of authenticity and caring at blogs that you don’t get at MSM sites. And I think the financial blogosphere is particularly unique in the internet because some of the people writing are masters of their domain. There are lot of professionals in the field of finance and economics who spend big chunks of their time blogging. That’s incredible. And the best part is if you don’t like something you just exit it. What a valuable educational resource the internet has become!