Source: Jack Wedam

The Hamas-Israel conflict just nailed the coffin lid on mainstream media.  The causes and effects may not be obvious.  Therefore, some background information may be helpful.

Mainstream media need lots of money to pay salaries, taxes, office rent, etc.

Mainstream media still operate predominantly with a brick-and-mortar business model.  Broadcast media require producers, camera crews, TV personalities, and associated support staff to be centralized in buildings.  These are often situated in big cities with high tax rates and expensive real estate.  Top-quality producers and TV personalities demand and often receive big salaries.  However, advertising revenues have been decreasing in proportion to decreased viewership, forcing many to lay off staff.  In a similar manner, newspapers such as the New York Times also operate out of expensive offices in large cities.  Revenues have been falling for years at newspapers, and many writers have been fired. 

The business model needed to sustain mainstream media is perilous, and it is unlikely that it can ever be replaced by anything more profitable.  As the size and influence of mainstream media shrink, their ability to control the narrative evaporates.

How did this happen? It happened in a manner similar to what’s described by Mark Twain or F. Scott Fitzgerald: “At first you go bankrupt slowly, then all at once.”  The first piece was internet scalability.

Fortunately, the protocols powering the Internet and the Web were designed for scalability. A scalable system is one that can continue functioning well even as it experiences higher usage.

Secondly, the COVID pandemic gave rise to widespread use of Zoom and other webinar platforms for communication.

The webinar business model has many similarities to the business model that made Amazon successful.  Amazon was able to spot new opportunities that became available due to the internet and develop a new business model that would transform the retail business.  Amazon bypassed the traditional brick-and-mortar retail outlets, instead earning its revenue by connecting buyers with sellers.  Amazon does not have to pay for inventory or pay for retail outlets.

Once Amazon developed and refined its software platform, increasing the number of buyers and sellers added little cost but a lot of profit.

A meeting on Zoom can be scheduled on short notice and can reach up to 10,000 viewers.  The costs are scalable.

The current Israel-Hamas conflict proved the utility of alternate media to influence public opinion.  Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to Washington, just broke the code.  He noticed this:

The Prime Minister’s Office’s Public Affair Department, which is responsible for public relations, is not functioning. But the problem is that our explanations no longer catch on. The media has changed. We have been saying the same thing for 15 years, and time has come for us to think and speak differently.

Gabriel Ben Tasgal, who established a pro-Israel advocacy project, explained that “there is an enormous difference from the situation back in 2014.  One of the reasons for this is when analyzing the Middle East, many media outlets used to interview local experts.”

“But now,” he said, “thanks to technology, these media outlets go straight to the source.”

Gutenberg changed the trajectory of civilization when he printed a massive number of Bibles.  Most people assume that that was just about changing a religious narrative.  That explanation shows how important controlling the narrative really is.

Jan Hus (aka John Hus or John Huss) was a priest who wanted alternative doctrines to take root in the Catholic Church.  He failed to wrestle control of the narrative away from the Church and was executed for heresy.  However, about a century later, Martin Luther wrote his Ninety-Five Theses, which contained many similarities to the message of Jan Hus.  Although excommunicated from the Catholic Church, Martin Luther was not executed as Hus was.  Why the difference in outcomes?  By the time Martin Luther wrote his theses, tens of thousands of Bibles were in wide circulation thanks to new technology introduced by Gutenberg.

When Jan Hus challenged the narrative of the Catholic Church, the only Bibles in existence were controlled by the Church.  Later, when Martin Luther challenged the narrative, thousands of people could read their own Bibles, translated by whomever.  Many who did agree with Martin Luther.  The Catholic Church lost control of the narrative, and the rest is history.

Fast-forward several centuries to more recent times.  Recently, these phenomena have been described as Information Warfare and Strategic Information Warfare.  Russia calls it Perception Warfare.  The Chinese Communist Party calls it Media Warfare.

Within the last two weeks, Israel has identified how to successfully manage the narrative by identifying and reaching out to sympathetic audiences and motivating them.  Audiences and commentators can now be connected on scalable internet platforms and follow Amazon’s successful model of connecting buyers and sellers.

The American Thinker works on a similar model that connects audiences with commentators on scalable internet platforms.  Similar internet platforms will further erode the audience and influence of the mainstream media.

I think these trends will be bigger than just the 2021 Arab-Israel conflict.  The technology is there, but the audience and commentators just need a nudge to make the shift.  I believe that this will now rapidly accelerate the economic demise and loss of narrative control (perception operations) by mainstream media.