In so much (cyberpunk?) media from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the hero is a journalist.
Journalism, was seen as the ultimate tool against despots.
(Think Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future, or Transmetropolitan, Makers (and many of the rest of Doctorow's books) or even Futureworld.)
And VCs + Facebook have effectively crippled modern journalism. Destroyed most local journalism. Rendered the pursuit of truth an optional side project for the left, and incompatible with the right.
My small town has a newspaper, they write and publish and print it on site.
I'm not sure how often, they publish.
But it's the only newspaper anyone in town carries, and that's the only reason it survives. It's a very connected town, and the newspaper is important to them.
It has a circulation of maybe 3000 people? Like, on the outside.
And that's the only reason that it hasn't been gobbled up by one of the larger papers in the big city. There's no money in it.
Who serves on your city council? Who is your representative in your state's congress?
I don't know mine.
That's my failure, for sure, but it's also a result of the silent death of local journalism.
I think about this a lot, but I don't know what to do about it beyond becoming the journalists.
And in a time when journalists are attacked on a regular basis, jailed, fined, intimidated, and punished, all while making less money than ever to reach an audience that's smaller than ever while relying on the benevolence of their corporate owners to keep them afloat, becoming the journalists doesn't sound super appealing.
But one of our biggest newspapers is owned by the same guy that owns our biggest retail monstrosity.
And the rest of our news media, more or less, are owned by equally or more unsavory characters.
Everyone has an agenda, and everyone's agenda is to hurt us.
And that sounds like some kind of hyperbole, but when your media is controlled by Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch, when your local news is actually just a puppet for Sinclair Broadcast Group... it stops being hyperbole.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about re: Sinclair Broadcast Group, here's a twitter link with a video that demonstrates my point really well.
And here's an article in the new york times that explains in more detail: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/02/business/media/sinclair-news-anchors-script.html
"This is extremely dangerous to our democracy."
(And yet Twitter, and the NYT are nearly as big a part of the problem as sinclair.)
And here is a video from Think Progress on Youtube that highlights the same forced read from Sinclair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T50pLTvwO80&feature=youtu.be
But again, youtube is part of the problem.
@ajroach42 wow that's horrifying...
The PBS news hour video is particularly damning.
But what can we do?
This is an article from fediverse local @ernie about IGA: https://tedium.co/2018/11/22/independent-grocers-alliance-history-hometown-proud/
IGA is a grocery store franchise.
Ernie suggests that their model could be, should be, applied to local journalism.
If that link isn't working for you, try this one: https://web.archive.org/save/https://tedium.co/2018/11/22/hometown-proud-iga-independent-grocers-alliance-history/
@ajroach42 we have the same problem to some extent here, although to be fair local media here is (unusually) run by a company that is to an extent centre-left and pro Europe (to the annoyance of rightwingers who constantly moan on the comments), but it now runs from a tiny office that the community radio station and multicultural centre got ousted from due to not being able to afford the rent (I know this as I helped the radio station haul out all the old kit and set up in their new studios)
@ajroach42 To be fair: journalism publications have ALWAYS been controlled by capitalists. I once heard a statistic that in the last century, media delivered a 30% return on capital investment over the long haul. They weren't especially noble about it. It was a lucrative industry.
Then Craigslist killed the classified ad and here we are.
IMHO, most newspapers also did an incredibly poor job of realizing that their value is in information, not the paper it's printed on.
@ajroach42 the bulk of the journos on our local news who get regular columns for anything other than basic crime or incident reporting are old enough to be my parents (I am in my mid 40s) and this is the audience most of the local news is now aimed at.
They've given up covering events aimed at people below <50 (wasn't even always the case and its not that the company doesn't *want* to cover these stories, it appears it genuinely cannot afford to and/or these events are not happening anyway >>
@ajroach42 I also think though it is "tail wagging dog" via adtech, younger people who even bother to use a news website are more likely to use adblockers and privacy badger etc the analytics might only be showing middle class older people are consuming the content *and* not also blocking the ads; and the shareholders tell the journos they must only produce content for this demographic..
for a good few years it wasn't even possible to reliably view an Archant news site on even a modern IOS device (which my sister owns) nor an older Android, the adtech scripts are that flawed they eat too many resources and lock up the mobile browser (this has been part fixed but there still isn't a well designed mobile browser view, making the whole thing hard to read in any case..
@ajroach42 the worst of this is this same news company *had* its own independent advertising sales department but just over a decade since I have lived in this region have repeatedly downsized this (they would never have fitted into their current Ipswich HQ with the complement of staff they had even 10 years ago).
This is it BTW (that Wikipedia article has probably been edited by one of their PR staff, its not inaccurate as such but hides the layoffs/downsizing)
"Substantial donations from the wealthy include one made by the Omidyar Network, which gave $2.5m and won a seat on the board; the Ford Foundation ($3m); the Stanton Foundation ($3.6m); and the Sloan Foundation ($3m). Then there's Google ($2m) and the Brin-Wojciki Foundation ($500,000)."
@ajroach42 There have been suggestions for rebuilding local news infrastructure online under micropayment &/or crowdfunded paywalls, such that the sustainability of journalism would not be tied to the demands of advertising revenue.
Unfortunately, one of the advantages of large press institutions is the leverage they have to shield their staff from government and state-sponsored coercion. The fourth estate as independent freelancers on a journo app doesn't really punch in the same weight class.
going past (cyberpunk?): the Pentagon Papers (Ellsberg exposed Vietnam War-caused quite a stir), All the President's Men (watergate book & film) or even fiction like Three Days of the Condor (whistleblowing ending).
whatever you want to call the .00001%ers: TPTB, bankers, the MIC...they KNOW propoganda and control it much better than the layman.
TV has all the news they want you to see. Mainstream online outlets, same thing.
@ajroach42 To this day I think about how accurate Fahrenheit 451 was in that regard. Just knowing and telling the truth isn't enough to undermine a dystopia, if people don't care. The books in F451 had ceased to have power over most people because they were so distracted and just didn't care.
@ajroach42 Also something touched on in those works. Max Headroom, s01e05:
"Since when has news been entertainment?"
"Since it was invented?"
--Edison and Murray
It was also Spider's obsession with the truth that got him fired from The Word and sent him underground (though, granted, a few of the stunts he pulled were horrendously illegal, even in the world of Transmet_).