So, inside that Medium Piece by David Gehring is this:
Ok, looks like we need to have a little reality check here. It’s not about trust, it’s about dollars.
Looking only at the Pew survey they’re using skews the basic issue in the wrong direction. Again, it looks at the audience, not the customer. Yes, the audience is important, but just having a big audience only gets you so far. Is it a valuable audience – valuable to advertisers and one that your sales people know how to sell to? Online especially, if you don’t monetize traffic, it is an expense. And it is an expense that can kill you (ask the bad guy moot who runs 4chan – just a few years ago, he couldn’t move out of his mom’s basement because even though he got massive traffic that any news site would kill for, his bandwidth bills were more expensive – mostly because he used low rate ad networks that were a lot like…. google adwords)
But, let’s look at the business side. and let’s look at the real truth and fact problem. Politifact has been watching and rating the cable news nets, and has Fox News pegged as being untrue about 2/3s of the time. Yet… Fox is pulling massive revenues off it’s audience:
And…. (relatively) historic ratings for spewing venom:
Now, relatively, we know that all traditional media are losing share to online:
But, the methodology is by medium, meaning it is the aggregate of core brands, legacy brands and pureplays and citizens, so traffic is spread across thousands and thousands of brands, and viewership is spread across a handful of channels. Cable TV brands actually consolidate audience – playing to a like minded audience – and win.
And the thing is – they do it while telling mistruths.
And they make A LOT of money on it. That business is sound – until cable cutting catches up and their audience ages out, but in the meantime, they’re making hay while the sun shines. So screw the truth, and screw the audience. There’s a good business in giving them what they want. Ask Clear Channel about how their AM talk ad revenues are on that wickedly lean production and distribution cost. Don’t bother. They’re awesome. If an online news startup pulled those numbers, venture money would rain down like monsoon.
The kind of journalism that Gringas and Lehrman are talking about is the kind of thing that tells you it isn’t the dress that makes you look fat – it’s the fat that makes you look fat. And no surprise, people don’t like hearing that.
You will see that much of what they’re calling for, like transparency of editors as well as reporter bylines, something we called for about ten years ago, does happen at places like bloomberg and upshot and lots of places. Nothing revolutionary there.
However, you will never see the credits on a cable news show. Only 60 minutes ever gave credit – to the producer. All the bookers, the editors, the producers, everyone else who stands behind the talking heads – faceless, completely not transparent.
So come on, online and newspapers? That’s walla – so much static it’s hard to raise any signal, even if it goes viral for a fleeting second. Talk about the real big one. Let’s talk about the damage a satellite uplink can do. Or how much money in political advertising underlies local broadcasting and regional cable buys.
And the old people who watch? They’re the ones that actually vote. And as far as journalism and society and the civic good, that’s the only engagement number that really matters. Not all the “digital native millennials” we’re fawning over to save us who didn’t show up:
So on my reddit AMA, when I ask you who gets to approve the next FCC board members and vote on net neutrality, let me know how that whole thing is working out for you? The folks who are broadcasting to people who can’t figure out e-mail and sell ads for reverse mortgages and life insurance who also might happen to own a cable company…. they seem to be doing just fine giving their audience and customers exactly what they want.