Thursday, October 2, 2008

Question: "What can I do about the media's outright campaigning for Obama?"

Glenn Reynolds has good advice for people frustrated with the media being in the tank for Obama:

EARLIER, I promised some thoughts on what to do about the news media's outright campaigning for Obama. (And that's what it is. Media bias used to mean that the would slow-walk stories that reflected badly on their candidate; now they just flat out ignore them, or even try to shoot them down. They're not just in the tank, they're functioning as arms of the campaign, and Obama's strategy shows that he knows that and is relying on it.)

So various readers have been asking what I think people should do. For example, reader Steven Murray writes:
Do you subscribe to Newsweek magazine? I do and my sister told me that I should cancel the subscription. She says that since that magazine is so deep in the tank for Obama, I am just subsidizing his campaign and the Democratic party. You know, I think she has a point. If more conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans canceled their subscriptions to these types of publications, maybe then they would take notice.

I doubt it. Most of these general-circulation magazines are in fact niche products serving their version of the NPR demographic (and, in Newsweek's case, doctor's offices). By all means, if you don't like them, cancel your subscription. People have been doing that for years, and it does have an effect -- look at the plummeting viewership of network news programs.

You can also write them, and their advertisers, and complain. This does some good, but it's usually temporary. As soon as the heat's off, they go back to their old ways.

But if you really want improvement, you need to support competition that isn't an arm of the Democratic Party. The New York Sun folded yesterday. It was a serious, right-leaning newspaper in New York City. It was undercapitalized, and its shutdown is probably symptomatic of what's going to happen to a lot of bigger newspapers soon, but if even a fraction of the people who are unhappy with the Times had subscribed it would still be in business. And, still, while the New York Times gets in deeper trouble, the New York Post seems to be doing fine.

If you want to have a media environment that isn't dominated by the Gwen Ifills and Keith Olbermanns of the world, you need to ensure that other kinds of voices flourish. That means supporting the alternatives with your eyeballs, your subscriptions, your advertiser-patronage (and you could write those advertisers and tell them you're happy that they're supporting that kind of programming, too -- they probably don't get many letters like that, so they'll be noticed) -- basically, your money. Businesses need money to flourish. There's a vast underserved population out there, for news, entertainment, movies, etc., and if people start serving it, the current "mainstream" media won't be so mainstream anymore. So if you're unhappy with current offerings, put your money where your mouth is.

And if you're one of the people with creative interests, start making alternative stuff. Not just news and punditry, but entertainment, documentaries, etc. If An American Carol does well this weekend, it'll make it a lot easier for the next film of its type to be made. If Evan Coyne Maloney's documentary work does well, it'll encourage a lot more of that kind of work.

Think of it like cultivating a garden: Starve the weeds, feed the flowers. Like gardening, it's work. But like gardening, if you do the work you'll see results.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a political progressive, I disagree with the politics of your blog. But I agree entirely that news consumers have to step up and support alternative media voices. Whether it's The Nation or the National Review, people have to understand that these organizations won't survive unless they subscribe.