“Strait times come in history. Our time is such a time, millennial, full of fast currents, tossing, eddied, dangerous to pass through.” – John Fowles, The Aristos
The Media is how America fights its civil wars. In this war at least half the country is both under-served and is painfully aware it is being under-served and lied to. In pop culture parlance, “We’re going to need bigger guns.”
Seen as the 4th branch of government, the unelected and self-selected Mainstream Media, in cultural and political collusion with the present government, knows this and – even as it dies – will do everything it can to prevent the arming of the people with more and better media.
To control the medium is to control the message. And control of the message means control of the hearts, minds, and votes of the people. To bring a better, clearer, and brighter message to the American people, we must have media that, like the Internet itself, “sees censorship as system damage and routes around it.” To accomplish this we must, in a network of small pieces loosely joined together, work to create a pervasive new media across America. Many of these pieces are already in place. Many more need to be created. All need to be joined in an affiliation. Mainstream media already knows how to do this and we must, to paraphrase Abby Hoffman, "Steal Their Book." Media not busy being born is busy dying.
This is the first in a series of articles on how to go about building a new American media; a media composed of newspapers, television, radio, film, music, publishing, and the multi-media capabilities of the Internet; an American media open to all and founded on the five bedrock principles of “Duty, Honor, Country, Truth, God.”
When dinosaurs die large opportunities for growth bloom within the ecosystem. The death of the old media is such an opportunity. It affords a wide range of possibilities to create a new media, a media that runs to the side of the mainstream media, but ultimately supplants it by slipping by it. For now I call it, The Slipstream Media.
By “The Slipstream Media” I mean the use of all forms of media currently in use to inform and persuade the public that "There is another system."
This series of articles will be composed of theoretical and practical observations on the content, forms, principles, funding, and business structures involved in creating a new media network in the rapidly changing marketplace of today and the foreseeable future. It will focus on, in Lenin’s phrase, “What is to be done,” as well as what can be done, and how the creation of the Slipstream Media might be accomplished.
What is to be done.
The Premise: Better ideas require not only better arguments, but also better means of distribution.
To survive and thrive, better ideas also require funding, a sound business model based on the realities of the present, and a path to positive cash flow.
In their headlong rush to establish their liberal/progressive apotheosis, Mainstream Media has, for decades, alienated well over half of the American “customer base.” This customer base is vast and vastly under-served. It extends from the far right of the American political spectrum well through the center. A media that arises to serve this American customer base can thrive on many levels, in many forms, and in many places throughout the country. In a very real sense, the demand for media – in all forms – that is dedicated to “Duty, Honor, Country, Truth, God” currently far outstrips the supply.
The continued dominance of the Fox News network is Exhibit A, B, and C in this regard. The mainstream media mocks the Fox motto of “Fair & Balanced” to such an extent that you know that Fox has the correct formula for our time. After all, you only mock what you fear and hate.
Briefly put, Fox News teaches us that America requires, and will reward, a new media network that rises from the American grain, one that is sustainable and local but with national, even global, reach. Fox News is, after all, composed of local affiliates each of which sustains both itself and the network at large in a symbiotic relationship.
Fox News demonstrates daily that America requires, and will reward, a new media network run without fear or favoritism that rejects the proven failures of bias, distortion, collusion, and revisionism that have brought the current dominant media networks, electronic and print, to destruction.
I will examine the Fox formula in more detail in a forthcoming section. For now it is only important to know that Fox works, and has much to teach those of us who would seek to replicate its success in other media and on other, more local, scales.
Well over half of the nation knows that, due to a perfect storm of politics, economics, and the manipulation of mass public opinion through a colluding and biased media, the nation is being driven towards rocks that may well sink the ship of state that has carried us safely across two centuries. Nearly half the nation is partially persuaded that in the name of “hope and change” this fateful change may well destroy “the last best hope of Earth.”
To prevent this the captain’s tower must be retaken and the ship’s course corrected. This cannot be done through the reliance on established political parties. Those are only a vehicle through which the correction of the course may be undertaken.
Those presently in control of the ship will not go quietly. They will fight with all the weapons they possess that they feel they can get away with using. Of these weapons, the most deadly ones in their arsenal is the Mainstream Media. To prevail we must arm ourselves as well as they have. In this we are fortunate in that they can, following their playbook, only grow weaker. We can grow stronger but only if we are willing to create an alternate medium that employs all media.
In the cultural/political struggles we are now engaged in, the medium is the weapon.
In a democracy votes are garnered by shaping public opinion on local, state, and national levels. This “shaping” is not something that happens in an election year, but well before. Decades before.
As we have seen to our dismay, over time the composition of a local school board that determines what is taught in our schools, as well as how it is taught, is more influential in our nation than a sheaf of senators or a passing President.
As the Sixties radicals I was once a part of knew all too well, losing control of the schools and the colleges leads, in a decade or so, to losing control of the government. If you can convince the young that the New York Times is the fountainhead of truth, their votes will follow the editorial bias the Times promulgates.
Many factors determine how votes are cast in a democracy, but the ability to reach, inform, and influence public opinion is chief among them. In our “winner-take-all” electoral process it is not enough to seek to influence on a national level if you have little influence on a local or state level.
To win modern media wars it is not sufficient to be armed with better ideas and better arguments alone. You must also have better and deeper distribution across a significant stretch of time. Just as the Lilliputians immobilized Gulliver with a large network of many thin threads tied together, so it will be necessary to do the same with the moribund mainstream media.
This can be done.
The creation of the Slipsteam Media will neither be easy nor instantaneous. It not even needs to be a formal structure. Many useful elements, mostly Internet based, are already present that can be used in its creation. Facts, content, and talent are present in overwhelming amounts within the Web, but the Web is only the hub of a media network and is too easily a closed circuit. The Web can be a center, but it cannot be the whole. Other, more focused, elements have to be brought to bear.
Again, better ideas require better distribution. A new media requires that information not only be routed up to the Web, but that information be routed out from the Web.
It will require the creation of many nodes and many modes of communication on the local, state, and national level.
It will require filling information eco-niches as soon as larger media life forms abandon them.
It will require the creation and syndication of many small local newspapers and journals (Yes, newspapers and journals. Do not dismiss fully mature media, but learn to use them in new ways and to better ends. Print reaches places the Internet does not go and retains an innate credibility that the Web has not yet surpassed.)
It will require the exploitation of extant local radio and television resources as well as the creation of new ones.
It will, at all points and in all phases, require the use of the Web to co-ordinate, support, and share the activities of the many with the whole. It will require a network of “small pieces loosely joined together,” agreeing to aid but agreeing to disagree in good will as long as all are united in the five bedrock principles of “Duty, Honor, Country, Truth, God.”
How might this to be done? The next part of this series will deal with that most venerable and endangered medium; the newspaper and what can be done to leverage its untapped power in the age of the Internet.Posted by Vanderleun at May 5, 2009 8:34 PM | TrackBack