The Buzz on Synergy and the New Media Conglomerate
Over the years we have seen that a massive concentration of corporations and media synergy has been on the rise as a marketing tool:
Synergy in the media
In media economics, synergy is the promotion and sale of a product
(and all its versions) throughout the various subsidiaries of a media conglomerate, e.g.: films, soundtracks or video games. Walt Disney pioneered synergistic marketing techniques in the 1930s by granting dozens of firms the right to use his Mickey Mouse
character in products and ads, and continued to market Disney media through licensing arrangements. These products can help advertise the film itself and thus help to increase the film's sales. For example, the Spider-Man films had toys of webshooters and figures of the characters made, as well as posters and games.
Even the lefts' more trusted corporate owned news sources are almost always, to a degree, caught up in some conflicts of interests because of Media conglomerates that can be damaging to the public good:
Critics have accused the larger conglomerates of dominating media, especially news, and refusing to publicize or deem "newsworthy" information that would be harmful to their other interests, and of contributing to the merging of entertainment and news (sensationalism) at the expense of tough coverage of serious issues. They are also accused of being a leading force for the standardization of culture (see globalization, Americanization), and they are a frequent target of criticism by partisan political groups which often perceive the news productions biased toward their foes.
In response, the companies and their supporters state that they maintain a strict separation between the business end and the production end of news departments.
Eventually the truth leaks out.
At times we get glimpses of honesty from even the supposed papers of record or television sources we are given by decoding buzz words and/or pulling out facts that, in retrospect on their part and in their own self interests, those news sources would probably like to be able to go back and kill before the more analytical readers out there in the New Media and Blogosphere got their hands on it.
The media analysis group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) issued an action alert September 22 titled "NYT Slams Single-Payer" that described lopsided reporting in a New York Times article about "Medicare for all," a form of a single-payer health care system. FAIR noted that the article, titled "Medicare for All? ‘Crazy,’ ‘Socialized’ and Unlikely",
laid out a list of arguments against single-payer while failing to include any balancing responses from the option's supporters. In explaining the slant, article author Katharine Seelye said she was trying to explain why Medicare-for-all was "not going anywhere." "I thought the substance of [single-payer] had been dealt with elsewhere many times," she said. On October 13, Times public editor Clark Hoyt conceded that FAIR "had a point," and agreed that the article excluded the point of view of single-payer health care system supporters. FAIR said it finds Seelye's defense "alarming," and points out that the Times, like the rest of the corporate-owned media, has given the issue of single-payer health care "scant attention."
Control of the debate has shifted.
But this has happened ONLY because they no longer control the voice of the debate and especially what is considered acceptable to debate the way they used to in the only outlets that used to be available to contradict their spin, obfuscation and sometimes even lies. In the past, the only outlets we had to react were within the Op Ed. and Letters to the Editor pages some of us were given the limited access they were willing to give to us. Or by taking to the streets, IF they even bothered to cover it, we might get some to notice.
The relatively non-event of teabagrrriism was wall to wall overblown and even lied about in some media and paled in comparison to the well documented over a million peace activists that turned out against illegal invasions and occupations that the traditional media mostly ignored.
It wasn't until places like TPM, C&L, dKos, FDL, BooTrib, MLW and even this place, ePluribus Media, came along to give the varying degrees of the left and moderates a place to raise their voices - and especially in the cases of those that are community Blogs - that we were able to change the entire debate as regular people could connect, comment, factcheck and find what was often the real hidden truths. At times, working together, we - the Blogosphere as whole - have often worked against the grain to drive real news stories from the ground up.
The stories that were burried beneath the deceptive headlines of the infotainment some call news or pushed aside almost completely suddenly were able to be put front center in the peoples debate, shared far and wide and, at times, shame the old traditional media into digging a little further after the truth.
I don't want or mean to put every journalist or editor in the traditional media into the shame category, that would simply be generalising a bit too much. But it has become clear that overall they can no longer be trusted to dig into and factcheck everything and - even more often in these days of media conglomerates downsizing, one of those kinder/nicer buzzwords used in the corporate owned media in place of laying off/firing - many of them may no longer have the resources needed to cover a lot of the more local news anymore.
A unique juncture in media time.
Right here and right now we are edging over into the future of both the traditional media and the new media. Choices we make and things we do can and will either return the control of important political discussions to the kleptocracy that is the controlling interest of the traditonal media or wrestle it from them to allow us the opportunity to have a real, unfiltered and honest voice in the future of this nation.
Some of what may seem like little battles we are going through now will have huge implications on the future of the new media and the people's ability to find it.
What can we do?
I am going to list a few things that, IMHO, we can and need to do to help keep the table tilting towards the truth getting out. I am putting them in an order that I believe does more to keep the hard working views of many of the Bloggers and internet media that has developed from it out there and available to everyone, for consumption and creation of what has been a gamechanger in the politics of this nation.
1. Support Net Neutrality
Everything written and shared, both from the left and right, and all of the truths, information and actions will all be for naught if corporations that own the access points to the internet can shut us down.
Net Neutrality is the foundation that all Citizen Journalism, Blogging and grassroots advocacy is built upon. Freely available information beyond the control of the traditional media and their corpoate owned entities is not the end all, be all but nothing else we do in the New Media will be worthwhile or bear fruit if they can shut the people out from getting to our ideas and actions.
Allowing the corporations control of the internet in the manner they are fighting desperately for would be tantamount to taking away all access to paper and ink from the likes of Thomas Paine in the days leading up to the birth of this nation:
Thomas Paine has a claim to the title The Father of the American Revolution because of Common Sense, the pro-independence monograph pamphlet he anonymously published on January 10, 1776; signed "Written by an Englishman", the pamphlet became an immediate success. ,
it quickly spread among the literate, and, in three months, 100,000
copies sold throughout the American British colonies (with only two
million free inhabitants), making it a best-selling work in
eighteenth-century America. Paine's original title for the pamphlet was Plain Truth; Paine's friend, pro-independence advocate Benjamin Rush, suggested Common Sense instead.
Paine was not expressing original ideas in Common Sense, but
rather employing rhetoric as a means to arouse resentment of the Crown.
To achieve these ends, he pioneered a style of political writing suited
to the democratic society he envisioned, with Common Sense
serving as a primary example. Part of Paine's work was to render
complex ideas intelligible to average readers of the day, with clear,
concise writing unlike the formal, learned style favored by many of
Common Sense was immensely popular, but how many people were converted to the cause of independence by the pamphlet is unknown. Paine's arguments were rarely cited in public calls for independence, which suggests that Common Sense may have had a more limited impact on the public's thinking about independence than is sometimes believed. The pamphlet probably had little direct influence on the Continental Congress's decision to issue a Declaration of Independence, since that body was more concerned with how declaring independence would affect the war effort. Paine's great contribution was in initiating a public debate about independence, which had previously been rather muted.
Loyalists vigorously attacked Common Sense
2. In many ways Bloggers are the modern day Pamphleteers.
Our interests and work is as important to the United States of America remaining a truly free nation today and into the future as theirs and their work was in making the USA that way at the outset. For most Blogs all you need is a free email account any of the many providers and you too can have a voice in the debate. As many individual Blogs grow and become community Blogs or their own traffic becomes too much for the free providers to succesfully accomodate all the time, often there is a need to buy a domain name and web space to park the larger ones.
Unfortunately, the more popular a site becomes the more traffic they receive and the higher their costs to keep the lights on.
Often you will see them put up special donation buttons for various causes, like FDL leading the charge in healthcare reform, that are pretty important to us all or they may offer "premium no add" service options if you become a paying member of their communities, as dKos does. Here at ePM, we are not above hauling out our own version of an ask for various reasons:
Periodically, we are forced to haul out the old Lemonade Stand.
While ePluribus Media strives to be self supporting with ads, we are
barely covering the server bill with our ad income. That leaves other
expenses out of reach unless we can go to the community for support.
We need to raise some dollars for fees for FOIA requests, reprint
permissions, photos and graphics for our Journal stories. In other
words, we need cash to keep the servers humming, the backups running,
and the lights on.
So if you can, donate ...
If you don't have funds, click on those blogad thingies. Each click
gives us a few pennies and they do add up. Our operating costs are
pretty low and currently every cent of donations goes to server rental, FOIA requests and other fees. There is not one person involved in ePluribus Media who receives any money for services.
Whatever you do, thanks for all your support!
Usually, those who can help respond in their own interests of keeping the work going at any and all of the sites you may visit. Some of the Bloggers out there may be asking as a combination of keeping their site going and a direct source of income to allow them to continue to have the time to provide the information that they are producing. Whatever their reasons, it is in your best interests to keep as many of these sites up and running and doing what they do.
3. Building a New Media Synergy
This last two parts are things we can and should all work on together more in the future.
We have all known for a longtime that links are capital. The various communities out there have allowed some of the better Bloggers to find new readers and create a loyal readership at their sites that they otherwise may not have ever had. Many of us have recognized the value of a simple link and in turn have tried to use it is a weapon to our own and everybody else's advantage. Free and easy to use BUT still the most valuable thing we have we all have to give to any other Blogger or POV out there on the net that you want people to see. A simple link.
The Blog friendships and interlinkage between them all helps to bring in those readers through exposure provided and by helping increase Google and other search engine rankings. Slowly building this credibility as a force in the Blogosphere has also allowed many, in turn, to have the time and funds to turn out Books and articles to put out in the general maketplace.
But we can do a lot more.
4. New Media Conglomerates
We have even more tools available that turn all of our own personal perspectives, insights and political opinions into a real media conglomaorate. A perfect example of putting all of this together is a place like Buzzflash.
They have become the equivalent of a National News organisation with quality, peer reviewed stories from everywhere across the nation and around the world along with their own high quality editorials that provides both a source for Bloggers and a source of traffic for the Bloggers own Blogging material.
And they have added a dimension of New Media Synergy by supporting themselves with a Buzzflash Marketplace made up of products produced by and for the lefts own interests. The books, many of them written by Bloggers that cut their teeth in the Blog communities, products that are green, earthfriendly and/or fairtrade produced and the bumper stickers and tshirts they sell are an example of turning all of our production into a force of good for a New Media Synergy both from a Bloggers perspective and a human perspective. You buy a book, a bumpersticker or a tshirt and it may support not only the person producing it but the many websites or causes that person may be producing it for.
This is probably one of the most exploitable ways we can help ourselves by helping others and we really need to get the entirety of the left Blogosphere thinking about new and better ways to make it work better for all of our own good.
Those were just 4 small things...
But I am sure many of you can and will come up other ways and new ideas to keep what is, already today, the foundation of our own evergrowing New Media Conglomerate that, instead of giving in to the evergrowing needs of for-profit corporate interests and their captive control of the media that keeps them profitable enough to be able to drive the old politics that allowed them to keep control of messaging, will keep us all working together in the interests of "We, the grassroots people".