Dr Chris Berg recently wrote an interesting piece in the Spectator (long version here) using an economic model trying to explain what is happening in the media … to explain the increasing increased partisanship. The model Berg uses is the 2 sided market:
Let’s call what’s happened to the newspaper industry multi-sided market collapse.
For the traditional newspaper industry, the market participants are advertisers and readers. Readers want content, and advertisers want eyeballs. Revenue from advertising paid for the production of news content, which attracted readers, which attracted more advertisers, and so on.
The cross-subsidies were straightforward. Advertisers were charged relatively large fees for access (very large in the case of full-page advertising, and relatively large in the case of classifieds). Readers were charged small fees (through either subscription or individual sales), or even no fees (such as the free newspaper model or free distribution locations like stadiums and railway stations).
Berg suggested that because of the loss of the rivers of gold classifieds and other advertising, newspapers changed their business modesl to more of a subscription model to compensate from the loss of revenue … and thus:
Journalism is now predominantly paid for by fees from the readers that demand that journalism, rather than indirectly through advertising.
What Berg is suggesting is that the newspapers are responding to their customers … the subscribers and giving them what they want.
It helps explain controversies like that which greeted the Tom Cotton opinion piece published in the New York Times in June 2020. Why should ideologically-motivated readers pay higher prices for content intended to appeal to their ideological opponents?
Nice try, but no. Sadly reality did not fit the theory.
What happened at the New York Times (as again confirmed by Bari Weiss this week) and what happened at the Atlantic with the termination of Kevin Williamson and what happened at New York magazine with the resignation of Andrew Sullivan was the management and leadership capitulated to the barbarians on the payroll.
Recall, in both the New York Times and the Atlantic cases at least, it was the staff who complained to management that the publication of Cotton and the employment of Williamson created an unsafe and hostile work environment. This notwithstanding these same people actually creating an unsafe and hostile work environment for Bari Weiss.
This was not the customers complaining. This was the wokey workers whining.
Now it is one thing for the kids to complain. It’s another for the adults to placate. And this capitulation of elites and leaders, cowering under their desks pleading don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, gave us the riots, the CHOPs and the destruction of statues.
This is a system wide cultural issue. This is not an economic evolution. When one of the most despicable humans walking the earth, Noam Chomsky, says things have gone too far, things have gone too far.
Amusingly this is not a right/left thing. This is a left and lefter thing. We are witnessing a Robespierrien moment. This is takfiri politics writ large where the loons go after each other in a quest for compliance and purity – decrying anyone who disagrees with the doctrine an apostate.
This will not end well.