Did you know? The Patriot Post is funded 100% by its readers. Help us stay front and center in the fight for Liberty and support the 2024 Patriots' Day Campaign.

February 27, 2024

Why Online News Isn’t Saving Journalism

Online media was never on a secure footing, dependent as it was not just on advertising but on the whims of Big Tech.

Bad news for the media often feels like good news for conservatives.

So word that Vice and BuzzFeed are laying off hundreds of journalists, weeks after the complete collapse of The Messenger, won’t elicit much sympathy from the right.

Then again, it’s not just conservatives who disapprove of the news business today:

Gallup last year found a paltry 32% of Americans say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the mass media.

The same survey found 29% had “not very much” trust in the media — and a record-setting 39% confessed they had “none at all.”

Last month the Los Angeles Times announced it was reducing its newsroom by more than 20%.

Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post has also been through rounds of buyouts and cutbacks.

But the troubles of traditional newspapers are often taken for granted.

A decade ago, online outlets like Vice and BuzzFeed were meant to be the future of media — new species adapted for the internet ecosystem.

That’s now the problem: those sites and others staked their survival on algorithms they don’t control.

First came “search engine optimization,” then gaming the algorithms that decide what content gets served to millions of Facebook and Twitter (now X) users.

BuzzFeed was notorious for “listicles,” which were addictively easy to share until Facebook became so saturated with BuzzFeed and Thought Catalog junk that Mark Zuckerberg’s platform decided to change the rules.

After all, how much clickbait could readers take?

Online media startups attracted investment by showing phenomenal growth, but it was like an athlete on steroids.

Entrepreneurial young journalists, well-connected with classmates and former colleagues at established outlets, garnered hype and headlines from their friends.

That sparked investor excitement, and with investors’ money, new sites could show a rapid explosion in traffic — since they were starting from nothing.

But how could they maintain investor-dazzling double-digit growth after the first spurt?

The social media on which the news sites depended faced the same problem.

The solution for Facebook, once new users started tapering off, was to get existing users to spend more time on the site, which meant no longer sending them to other sites, like news sources, through links.

Now Facebook and X make it nearly impossible to promote journalism on their sites; they want the eyeballs to stay on their own platforms.

When social media were young, they needed to maximize traffic, which meant playing host to any kind of content users wanted, including news.

YouTube and Facebook felt like the Wild West in those days, with neither copyright law nor political correctness putting a damper on what users could share.

Today politics isn’t the main reason social media suppresses news, but it’s an aggravating factor, as The Wall Street Journal’s Kyle Smith recently noted on X.

Smith pointed out that progressive campaigns to shame advertisers into abandoning Fox News, or X itself under Elon Musk’s ownership, encourage advertisers to avoid all political risk.

Budweiser’s humiliating losses after turning the transgender “influencer” Dylan Mulvaney into a brand representative demonstrated how much it could hurt to alienate conservatives.

So why advertise with any politically charged news organizations?

If left-leaning sites like Vice and BuzzFeed are collateral damage in progressives’ war on right-of-center political expression, that may seem like just deserts, as well as a poignant irony.

But the wider lesson is that online media was never on a secure footing, dependent as it was not just on advertising — which is true for almost all media — but on the whims of Big Tech, which has its own growth worries.

Newspapers, by contrast, flourished as local institutions sustained by local retailers.

The emergence of online national and even global retail, however, has meant ad spending isn’t dictated by geography any more.

Businesses can reach consumers directly or cast a wider net by buying a little exposure on large platforms like Google or Facebook.

Yet not only news but our very system of government is built on localism — on distinct cities, towns, states and congressional districts.

Newspapers served as their town halls, even more than physical town halls did.

The wipeout of hype-driven, placeless new media isn’t a cause for celebration, but it’s not a disaster for our republic.

The loss of local distinctiveness, on the other hand, is at the root of much of our polarization and deadlock today.

In “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville argued “that the number of newspapers must diminish or increase amongst a democratic people, in proportion as its administration is more or less centralized.”

Fewer newspapers means more centralized power — and more conflict over it.

Conservatives who don’t want that have reason to want newspapers to survive.

And newspapers that want to survive have to fight hard for local interests and values — including conservative ones.

COPYRIGHT 2024 CREATORS.COM

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2024 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.