Social media has arisen as a new kind of media. Proponents proclaim that social media promotes innovation. While some have created innovative uses of social media the models and behaviors show the same old thinking.
The reality is that social media gurus and popular practitioners are following the old media model of propaganda, politics and control
Propaganda, Politics & Control
First presented in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the “Propaganda model” views the private media as businesses interested in the sale of a product — readers and audiences — to other businesses (advertisers) and not that of quality news to the public.
Old media models have dominated the markets influence for years. The mix that drives both the influence and the related models fall into five categories that drive economic returns. These same models are followed by the “popular” publishers of new media. The five old categories of media models being followed by new media pundits are:
- Ownership of the medium: The sheer size, concentrated ownership and profit-seeking imperative of the dominant media (old & new) communities are aiming on “volume” of readers, viewers and sources to enhance their “traffic position”. Since major community outlets are either large brands or a conglomeration of pundits propagating the latest marketing, advertising or Public Relations tactics their models reflects the same as old media. The crowds follow these communities and sources as if they are the “Gods” of new media when in fact they are simply after the old media model of propagation.
- Medium’s funding sources: The second group of the propaganda model is advertising. Most communities have to attract and support a high proportion of advertising to cover the costs of production; without it, they could not leverage resources to gain their traffic position, influence and viewers. There is fierce competition throughout new media all trying to to attract advertisers and sponsors. A community which gets less advertising than its competitors is put at a disadvantage. The irony of this model is that advertising doesn’t work in “social environments”.
- Sourcing: The third category relates to the sourcing of mass media news: “The mass media are drawn into a symbiotic relationship with powerful sources of information by economic necessity and reciprocity of interest.” Large old media conglomerates can no longer afford to place reporters everywhere. They therefore concentrate their primary resources where major news stories are likely to happen: the White House, the Pentagon, Hollywood etc., and other prominent news “centers”. Now “bloggers” are also trusted sources of stories considered newsworthy. The “large new media communities” propagated by “blogger articles” are partnering with old media sources to run related content but with the bias of not offending the old media conglomerate models of politics, power and control.
- Flak: Flax is ‘negative responses to a media statement or position on any related news story. Business organizations, political parties and media conglomerates regularly come together to form flak machines. “Communities” now are forming around “flak positions” and new media practitioners are propagating content to support or oppose relevant positions. These very communities are supported by traditional “flax machines” funded by business organizations, political parties and media conglomerates.
- Philosophy: All media, old and new, are used to propagate beliefs adopted by business leaders, politicians and media is the propagation machine of said beliefs. All media are used to exploit public fear and hatred of groups that propagate beliefs which oppose old philosophies that created existing power, control and politics as usual. Both old media and new media can be used to discredit opposing views or alternative philosophies.
A Slow But Obvious Change is Underway
Seth Godin writes: The slow changes in the media landscape are accelerating and virtually every pre-digital system is in danger. The slow changes in the marketing landscape are in their second decade and these changes will have their effects on every business and cause as well.
Cultural shifts create long terms evolutionary changes. Cultural shifts, changes in habits, technologies that slowly obsolete a product or a system are the ones that change our lives. Watch for shifts in systems and processes and expectations. That’s what makes change, not big events.
The breaking news mindset isn’t just annoying, it may be distracting you from what really matters. As the world gets faster, it turns out that the glacial changes of years and decades are become more important, not less.
The old media models of propaganda, power and politics are changing slow but sure. The changes aren’t likely to be found in new media communities following old media models. Rather the changes can be found in small “communes” of 2.0 Hippies who think outside the old models.