Am I Next? Fake news and the broken business model of the media

For those who wondered what happened to the mainstream media, it is not so much its engagement in toxic left versus right battles, but the failure of its original business model.

The old model was based on delivering information and analysis to individuals who had little or no access to contemporaneous news other than radio, the newspapers, and the longer form magazines. People had favorite sources and were pretty much loyal to their choices. Editorial content was divided into reportage and commentary and the commercial aspect of selling advertising rarely impacted editorial content. The sales ads for the various goods and services were numerous and repetitive. Classified advertising was a major moneymaker.

Enter the internet with its multiplicity of free information sources, many contemporaneous and many with accompanying audiovisual content.

Enter the internet with its ability to disintermediate, search and sort, classified advertising offers as well as offer long-form sales pitches that cost little or nothing to access.

Enter the corporate ownership of media outlets by companies that had other commercial interests regulated or dependent on government contracts. The pressure no longer came from advertising sponsors but from corporate executives fearful of jeopardizing government-derived income streams from grants, contracts, subsidies, tax relief, special interest legislation, and waiver relief from regulations and/or legislation.

With advertising income shifting towards online free classified advertising or the use of social media influences, reduced revenues impacted the bottom line. The content creators went hat-in-hand to the business side of the enterprise to plead for support. Unfortunately on a quid-pro-quo basis that changed the nature of the editorial content.

And, the last straw was the need to boost audience and ratings in this new environment. No longer could one claim immediacy, the excellency of analysis, or a unique selling proposition. There were too many sources freely available and one needed to rise above the noise to be noticed.

Hence, we are now presented with a business model that is dependent on outrageous assertions and the cult of personality to deliver an audience. The more outrageous the assertion, the more it is passed from person-to-person. And, hopefully, it will reach the holy grail of "going viral."

So unless the media can develop a new business model with fresh and valuable content, they will simply be disintermediated into nothingness. Meanwhile, the mainstream media will be filled with the bizarre and exploited news -- much of which is synthetically derived and can be legitimately described as fake news.

Are you wondering, Am I next?