Wednesday, October 30, 2019

We Can't Let Thousands of Local Newspapers Disappear ... Yang

I haven't really followed this guys campaign, but, I love the message he's got here.

This is less than 5 minutes and it's deeply important to our communities.

If a presidential candidate thinks this is important, it's closer to the public's awareness than I thought and that's a very good thing.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

We Need A New Kind Of Local Community Funded Newspaper- At The Public Library

A story on this our local NPR station did: "As News Deserts Encroach, One City Looks At A new Way To Fund Local Journalism"


Let's put unbiased local newsrooms into a place that's not obvious, but when you think of it, makes more sense than anywhere else: The local public library.

It's clear that libraries have become the center of unbiased non-profit information dissemination in America. It's where you go for guidance on how to find information on things you're interested in. It's also one of the few places in your city you can go to today and not be expected to buy something.

In a recent New York Times opinion piece by Eric Klinenberg, he makes the argument that we need to support our libraries more, not less.

Why not really focus on making them an integral component of our communities though?  Libraries all across America are moving toward this idea of being the primary information center for the community, regardless of information type.

Boulder, Colorado has a full-blown makerspace with tools and printers and laser cutters that are packed with patrons from the moment it opens to the moment it closes every day.

There are libraries where you can check out a laptop from a vending machine, or a drone, just like you can check out a book.

There are even libraries that provide 'newsletters on the happenings in the community' that turn into actual weekly's and online publications, fulfilling an essential need where towns have lost their local newspapers to the insatiable appetite of Google and Facebook pulling out almost all of the local advertising revenue, leaving little to nothing for real local newsrooms to operate on.

Personally, I'd like to see my local library take on the role of a local newsroom, producing information about what's going on in our community, just like local newspapers used to. Why a library? Because it's our communities long term memory. It stores the newspapers from 100 years ago. It keeps a record of our town's history and it provides guided access to information that's about facts, first and foremost.

To remove a book from a library because you don't like it requires you, almost, have to kill a librarian. They are badasses when it comes to unbiased access to information.

Can you think of a better place for a newsroom that's focused on local community information to existing? I can't.  Personal privacy, freedom of information and freedom of the press are key components of our society and all of those are enshrined in practice and law at American libraries.

Even what's left of our local newspapers are under attack by monied interests determined to squeeze out the last few cents of profit possible. Our community has a Digital First owned newspaper.  That, in turn, is owned by a hedge fund in NYC that could give two craps about news in my (or your) hometown.  They're sucking the final profits out of a dying business (local for-profit news). They shut down their office and not a single reporter from this shell of a newspaper has even a co-working space desk to operate from in our town now.  100,000 people. They work out of another city. The few reporters left cover multiple 'beats'. For us, the 5 or so reporters in the area cover 7 cities and 3 counties. A far cry from the dozens of professional journalists that used to cover Longmont.

Local news is essential and vital to the civic health of a town or city. Citie's that lose their newspapers and become news deserts (almost 2000 cities in America over the last 10 years have had this happen) see many costs to their communities from higher crime rates, more local political corruption, lower school scores, more opioid deaths and even higher borrowing costs for municipal bonds.

What better place than the local library to base a non-profit newsroom?

Libraries of the 21st century are becoming far more than places for just books. They are building out maker-spaces in their buildings now.  Some have community museums, high schools and senior centers in them. They're about community services, not just books, but what they're really about is knowledge sharing and learning. Newspapers are on that same continuum of knowledge sharing and learning that libraries have been brilliant at for centuries.

Just like a library, local news can help bind a community together.  It can inform and enlighten.  It should be accurate and honest and it should give us insight into our government, our schools, our businesses, our neighborhoods, and our town.  It can embody where we live and be the heartbeat and memory of what happened last week, a century ago, and everything in between.

Today's news organizations are under attack.  By the ruthless cold AI driven profit engines of social media like Facebook, Nextdoor and Twitter where opinion and gossip have taken the place of actual vetted unbiased news, search engines and Amazon's desire to make all things publishing oriented available only through them and by government officials who cry 'fake news' and focus on large centralized for-profit news entities that are vulnerable to the whims of these politicians and advertisers.

Imagine 10,000 local distributed non-profit independent newsrooms focused on their community, housed in the local library, reporting on our day to day lives, for us.  No desire to sell you something.  No need to try and influence or convince.  Just news. Locally focused news on the mundane but essential components of our schools, our government, our businesses, our families and our friend's lives. These newsrooms would be untouchable by politicians or the advertising-driven for profit needs of today's news business model.

But how to fund it?  There is a way that could work in any town in America.  All they would need is a library, or the desire to have a library.

The germ of this idea came from a fellow named Simon Galperin who wrote an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled "Journalism is a public service. Why don't we fund it like one?"

Why not indeed?  But convincing a local community to create a 'Communication Information District', as Galperin proposes, is currently a hard sell.  Not because it's a bad idea, but, because it's a new idea.  New ideas are hard to grasp by large groups of people and can often take a very long time to be accepted by the general public.

But libraries don't have this problem.

Why not put every library in America into its own special tax district (as many libraries already are) to fund that library.  As part of that library create a local newsroom with a staff of reporters and editors with a video and audio editing capability (also accessible to everyone in the community to use) to cover the day to day happenings in that town?  Covering the local government, schools, businesses, social life, and entertainment. Acting as a place that holds together the community.

This 'newsroom' entity could also replace the aging network of underused public access TV studios that were funded decades ago by the Cable Communication Act of 1984.  Part of that act was to create PEG (public education and government access) stations.  Although these stations/studios once were an important part of local media in communities across the country, they, along with the rapidly accelerating 'cutting the cord' activities of people nationwide have made cable TV, and by extension, local cable franchise fee supported public tv studios, far less relevant in day to day society.

Today, video on the internet has replaced the old TV model.  Just as podcasts have taken a larger and larger roll in place of traditional analog radio stations.

A video and audio production studio in a library isn't just a good idea, it's something that's already happening across the country. Just look at White Plains NY's library who moved their cable access studios into the local library.

Libraries are already repositories of newspapers (if they can find them nowadays... often, they aren't even available anymore, or the hedge funds want to charge 10's of thousands of dollars for the right to access them), why not make them the home of non-partisan, locally focused news, as well as the archiver of it.

You could set this up as part of the Library Special Tax district (well established laws in all states) and protect it's independence with a set percentage of the tax districts money that can't be taken away by the libraries board (creating journalist integrity and the essential ability to not be influenced by anything other than the needs of the community) and writing into the library tax district bylaws protections for the integrity and independence of the newsroom to ensure the newsrooms focuses on the needs of the community and not any special interests.

For those who wonder if tax dollars can effectively be used to create quality balanced news, you don't need to look any further than what many believe is the best news organization in the world: The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), which is funded mostly by taxes on the countries citizens and the selling of it's content (produced by the tax-funded divisions) internationally.

Communities that lose their local newspapers all suffer.  A recent study done by the University of Notre Dame and the Universtiy of Illinois found that cities without locally active newspapers shouldered higher costs across the board.  From lower test scores in local schools to higher crime rates and even higher borrowing rates for things like city bonds to fund public works projects. They even see substantially less civic engagement as outlined in an article titled "When local newspapers shrink fewer people bother to run for mayor"

As Jacob Passy writes in MarketWatch"Higher taxpayer costs can come about in other ways. The closure of a local newspaper was also shown to lead to high government wages, more government employees and higher taxes per capita. “Local newspapers hold their governments accountable,” the researchers wrote. “The loss of monitoring that results from newspaper closures is associated with increased government inefficiencies.”

It's likely that it would even save money for local government.  Today, our city spends at least 10's of thousands of dollars on advertising and subscriptions in the for-profit hedge fund owned newspaper as well as money paying for 'public notices' that are required by law be published in a local newspaper. All of that money is currently taken out of the city of Longmont and sent back to billionaire hedge fund owners in NYC.  Why not spend that money with this newsroom?  A paper version could easily be created that contained these public notices, available at the library, through USPS subscriptions and, of course, online (available to the entire population of the city from their phones).

And all that money spent by the city would stay in the city.

Public notices are a requirement for all cities in America and make it even easier to justify the creation of local newsroom and publication housed at your local library.

The level of civic engagement and transparency in communities with this kind of hybrid local non-profit newsroom and library institution could both replace the dying newspaper business of yesteryear and provide a new vibrant way for cities and towns across America to better take care of both themselves and their residents.

I don't know if this is something that will come about, but, I do think that this may be one of the best solutions to fixing a problem that's fast approaching our community and other communities across the country.

Update 5/10/19: An article published on this and what's happening in our community in the Columbia Journalism Review:

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Ever Want To Set Up A Low Cost, Wireless, Mobile 4 Camera (multi-cam) TV Studio?

Turns out, you can now setup up one of these multicam systems for less than the cost of one pro camcorder. And you can do it in a completely mobile/wireless fashion with a setup time of fewer than 10 minutes. There are now several low cost 'tv studio's' that can be set up with an iPad and a bunch of iPhones that allow you to record and live stream in full 1080p a multi-cam 'show' that's not too different than what you see from your local TV stations. This includes overlays, transitions, pro audio input, but also includes something the old school folks don't: real-time interaction with people on Facebook and YouTube, if you want it. Why should I care? As part of the creating these non-profit low operating cost local newsrooms of which the Longmont Observer is the prototype- video is part of the equation. Gotta capture those local news events, city council meetings, school board meetings, high school sporting events, ribbon cuttings and many other day to day life kind of things a local newsroom covers. These kind of systems are also useful for things like local music and comedy venues, churches, convention centers, and local sports and event arenas. I've found 4 companies worth looking at. Switcher Studio Mevo (Livestream) Cinamaker SlingStudio I'm sure there are others, but, these are the one's I was able to really dig into. I'm still doing evaluations on feature sets, but, honestly, all 4 can do pretty much the same (basic) things. Of course, the longer they've been around, the more polished their products are likely to be (Switcher Studio is the most mature, with Cinamaker almost brand new. Mevo and Sling came out about the same time). What's really interesting is the cost. Here's a spreadsheet with a breakdown of all four systems costs. As a baseline: I used iPhone SE's (4K capable) purchased (new) from one of the MVNO's who sells them for $150 new (locked but doesn't matter, you don't need to activate them to use them). I also used, pretty much, the same set of 'base' equipment (iPhone SE's, cables, stands, mics, etc.) for each system as a cost basis since they all use the same parts, not including their proprietary hardware and/or software. Interestingly, the cost to get going and to operate the systems the first year really is far less expensive than you might think. From a low of around $1600 to a high of around $2600. For everything (including the first year subscription costs for the software/service). Considering a Tri-caster mini (the 'switching' device used by many 'pro' studios) starts around $5,000 (no cameras, at $2500 each, included), that's pertty darned impressive. Can you spend more? Sure. But this is 'good enough' for about 90% of the things you'd want to do on a day to day basis at a local level, where, you know, we live our lives every day. Yes, there are differences in what you get, the capabilities of each system, the level of sophistication possible in the productions, the reach of the wireless each is capable of and the scope you can grow into, but, the basics are all pretty similar. I'll be doing a feature comparison as part of the evaluation as well, but that's likely a 'few months' away kind of thing right now. This'll get you started though. If you're interested in creating a low cost, highly capable 4 camera (or more) 'multi-cam' wireless mobile TV studio- you've got plenty of options.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Times Call = Boulder Camera (?) Apparently it's the same Newspaper

Longmont and Boulder:  Very different towns.  However, our for-profit local newspaper chain seems to think it's the same town, and we won't notice, so they just reuse the same content.  Over and over.

From 60% on the low end to over 90% on the high end (any given day) the content is the same.

This isn't community news and information media, it's an advertising container.

However, it's also the reason we started the Longmont Observer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Times-Call, our local newspaper, turned off commenting- this is not a good thing

Some of our readers at the Longmont Observer, recently, pointed out to us that The Longmont Times-Call, owned by Alden Global has made the decision to turn off commenting by readers for its entire site.  They referenced this article: Times-Call ends story commenting

The Times-Call, a Digitial First Media Corporation property, states that "Commenting on stories, while a sound idea in principle, presents a host of challenges for us and we simply do not have the tools or adequate resources to ensure story commenting provides positive value to our readers."

They go on to say: "The majority of the time, the comments are dominated by a small group of people, most posting anonymously, and who, frankly, tend to simply shout down or ridicule any opposing view. Commonly, our comments sections are filled with vitriol, personal attacks, profanity, and angry and hateful speech — and worse, unfortunately."

Many news outlets in America, and across the world, have moved the conversation from local media outlets to the large social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  The thinking has been they create a barrier that raises the bar by creating helpful friction in the process that, in theory, would produce a more restrained and thoughtful commentary.  Others, especially over the last couple of years, agree that places like Facebook offer a massive space, but, are not always a place for intelligent discourse.
What appears to be happening with social media is a significant portion of people are behaving irresponsibly and writing without thinking of the consequences their messages have.  Often, these people hijack public discourse and set, even control, the tone of the discussion.

That, apparently, has now happened to the Longmont Times-Call.

In addition, most sites that have commenting only see a small percentage of their readers actually sign up and participate in the comment sections.  Sections that require, often, significant resources to moderate from already struggling news media entities and their constantly shrinking staffs.

The news, today, is no longer concentrated and fed to a city by a single source anymore.  The local newspaper used to be a quasi-monopoly on how people found out what was going on in their town and determining what was important and what would be ignored.  People were willing to pay for that news.

Those times are no more.

We still pay for it, make no mistake about that, but it's distributed among several players now.  The average person pays on average $50-100 a month for their internet service at home.  Another $50 a month for your cell phone and it's data service.  With that comes access to 'free' information and news.

What we forget is we pay for 'free' services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.  What also forget is that, when a service is free to us, we become the product.  My Friend Dennis Dube, when the iPad first came out said to me, quite insightfully "oh look, a screen attached to your credit card'.

How true.

We pay with our personal information.  It's collected and sold, as highly focused advertising, to sell us things.  From cars to politicians to, it now seems, social contracts on how to behave. 

Those advertising dollars used to go to that local newspaper.  The old Times-Call building in Longmont had, at it's prime, 200 plus employee's, creating a well informed daily record of our lives in Longmont.

Also, no more.

The small, personal and sometimes even petty is now relegated to the short sound bites of Twitter or the cloistered bubbles and echo chambers we create for ourselves on Facebook.

The question then becomes where to turn to find out what's really happening in your town?  Who's paying attention to what's going on at St. Vrain Valley Schools?  Who's digging into that tip about the troubled kid's facility going up on the west side?  Who's asking about things like police misconduct?  And who's talking to local businesses to find out what's available to people in our town?  What kinds of local goods and services do we have in Longmont now?  And what's happening with issues like the train noise on the East side? 

I like to think we're taking a shot at it with the Longmont Observer.  We're doing our best as a non-profit supported solely by the goodwill of the institutions, businesses, and residents of Longmont, but it's going to be a difficult road.

Competing with the locked in costs of internet and cell phone bills, and the well-crafted game theory used to manipulate people to come back, over and over, to their social network profiles, maybe something that no one can overcome.

Let's hope not.  Let's hope that we can keep a level of local independence and local engagement by people who live in our town(s) by creating and supporting things like the Longmont Observer.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

We need a local non profit media entity that replaces the tired old newspaper model and the 'one size fits anyone' algorithm driven future offered by social media

Yea, I said it.  Non Profit local media.

I'm thinking of a mashup, maybe, of TinkerMill (our local makerspace-provides membership/volunteerism) crossed with NPR (provides individual sponsorship and business underwriting).

Why does this matter?  Because our local news just no longer cuts it.  It's not local, it's not community focused and it's gotten to the point where it's close to useless.

Yes, I'm aware that local news products meant to displace existing media has been tried before. Places like the for profit Backfence, funded with millions of dollars, failed.  There are, of course, organizations that are trying to figure this out, but no real solutions seem to have come from it.

Those that are left, objectively, aren't doing a very good job of it.  As an example:  NPR and PBS.  Both are very good at what they do, but, is there an NPR reporter in my home town?  No.  Have they done a story on my home town?  The last one, I think, was in September of last year.  PBS is the same, as are non profit newspaper entities like the Texas Tribune.  Maybe there's a way to leverage them and help them, but they seem to have their hands pretty full right now just making sure they keep their existing funding.

The bottom line is when it comes to state wide coverage: not bad.  Are they in the city council meetings in local municipalities?  Do they show up at key football games of the local AAAA state champ high school teams?  Are they at the school board meetings?  Do they even know my town's got one of the best microbrewery networks in the country?  No way.

I suspect that it's because it's generally been under the watchful eye of existing journalism types and  non profit experts and has tended to repeat the mistakes of the old school models.  Maybe a more local non profit tech focused alternative view can come up with a viable approach.  Mix in the community operated/non profit aspect and it could work.


After creating the non profit 501(c)3 TinkerMill, and nurturing it, with a great group of co-founders, into being one of the more successful makerspaces in the country with almost 500 members and counting as of early 2017 with a self sustaining membership driven revenue and operations model that's bringing in six figures, more than enough to operate an exceptional space, all focused on our local community, and after having done a few other non-profity things as side projects over the last 25years, most of which did reasonably well, I have to wonder:  Can we create a non profit community focused local newspaper/radio/TV replacement that's also better than being sucked in and consumed by Facebook and it's ilk?

I'm reasonably sure the answer is yes, but, can it be better than what's there now?

TinkerMill taught us quite a bit about how to mobilize and engage different parts of a community.  From residents to government, to business to schools to other non profits and community groups.  It takes many aspects of a local community to create a community resource.

What I really want to do is see if there's a way to replace, or at the very least, seriously augment, the existing local newspaper/radio/tv/social media realm.

In our city, we don't even have a local news radio station or a TV station and the newspaper is owned by a regional entity that's owned by a hedge fund out of New York City that's primary goal is to cut costs and provide the least possible service for the most possible money.  They recently announced that they are moving the entire staff of the Longmont Times Call (about 22 people) out of Longmont to the offices in Boulder.  So, they sit in another city and pump out 2, maybe 3 stories a day (sometimes less) and then reuse stories from other newspapers in the area they own.  If you're working in an office half an hour away from the city you're 'covering', you simply cannot cover that city well.  Not even kind of well.  That's what we, and thousands of other cities across the world, are facing.

Our newspaper is no longer a local municipally focused news source, it's a slowly dying cash machine that's being squeezed dry for every cent of profit possible with no sense of what's important to the local community by these out of state hedge funds that own them.

The current for profit entities such as Facebook, or even smaller startups like NextDoor, which seems to be where many are getting their 'news' now, are a source readers should think long and hard about trusting; they're globally focused for profit companies who make their money off of your personal information, and part of the process is 'building a global newsroom run by robot editors and it's own readers'.  It is, effectively, a blueprint for destroying journalism.  85% of the online ad dollars that once paid for your local newspaper to operate are now sucked up by two companies:  Facebook and Google.  Remember, if the product is "free", you are the product; they're selling your personal information in exchange for these ad dollars.  The news they create?  It's driven by an algorithm; not a human who really knows anything about your local community.

Even Google, with it's Google News product, an excellent source for news, has a 'local' section that's just using an algorithm to aggregate existing mostly for profit news sources that, also, don't really cover local news any more.

There's just not a recipe for an engaged and informed local community media outlet from any of the current for profit entities;  at least, none that I can see.

I'm all for using algorithm's where it makes sense, but, I also think there's a very real need for local human curation of things that touch, well, local humans and the local community they live in.  Most likely, it's a hybrid of both - human curation and smart/useful algorithm's - and driven at a local level, not by a huge 2 billion user silicon valley behemoth.  We can get there, but, we're not there.  Not just yet.

So, maybe, the answer is a non profit that's using humans and technology in smart ways that haven't been tried before at a local level.

Just for fun, I wrote up a quick one pager on what that might look like.


The Local News Network  (LNN)

"No opinions, politics or religion; just the facts." 
(a pipe dream maybe, but worth a shot)

The purpose of LNN will be to create a non partisan non-profit platform that can be operated within a municipality such as Longmont, CO. and possibly many other cities around the world, that is owned and operated by it's residents as a replacement, or least serious augmentation, of dying for-profit local news entities such as newspapers.  It's delivery will be through website(s), podcasts, online streaming of audio and video using existing technology and distribution platforms such as YouTube, WordPress, Podcasts and other low/no cost open source software solutions as they become available re-purposed to deliver local news to local residents.  Automated distribution to social media networks will also be part of the process.  In addition, we'll explore using localized versions of existing old school media such as a weekly newspaper like the Boulder Weekly and Westword, local LPFM (low power FM) radio stations and local low power TV broadcasting.


  • Economy & Business
  • Education
  • Energy & Environment
  • Government
  • Health & Human Services
  • Law & Order
  • People
  • Politics (without opinion)
  • Race & Immigration
  • Transportation
  • Art and Music
  • Technology
  • Sports
  • Human Interest Stories

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES (ideas only here, many many ways to approach this)

  • An up to date website with all of the above areas of coverage.
  • A weekly paper newspaper, effectively a 'snapshot' of the website printed on paper, distributed to news stands at key positions in town and through memberships. (this may be a really stupid idea, but it's worth investigating, if for no other reason than it's working in some places and it might be a good transitional mechanism for many people).
  • A streaming and podcast driven radio station with member and volunteer provided content focused on local news and events.  If possible, an LPFM (Low Power FM) radio station (depends on availability of licenses).
  • A streaming and podcast driven video station with member and volunteer provided content using, mostly, YouTube initially and expanding to other platforms if needed.  If possible, a low power broadcast TV station (depends on availability of licenses).
  • Automated distribution to relevant social media platforms.
  • Development of tools, both computer and mobile device oriented, that allow the simple and easy creation and operation of this local news network's content and distribution.
  • Simple to use services like a small cheap radio streaming server that costs $150 in hardware and uses free opensource software and that you can set up on your desk and support 100's, potentially thousands, of listeners, simultaneously. 
  • Potentially most important: Archives.  This would be the only real, reliable archive of local news information (starting on day one of it's operation) in the city.  Local for profit newspapers can no longer be depended on to provide this service.  They are deleting old stories from their websites and spotty if not downright derilict in their archiving for long term access our cities news records.  the LNN would be owned by the residents of the city itself.  As long as the community exists and supports it's Local News Network, that information will be available for future reference, and future generations.  No one's doing this now.  No one.  We need to understand out past to understand our future.
  • Many more ideas here, but let's get started first.


A non profit 501(c)3

Member's and volunteers provide the majority of content

A strong focus on curation (editorship) of existing available content and the new member/volunteer provided content

Use of existing platforms (exp: YouTube, TuneIn, WordPress) with the philosophy of 'don't reinvent what you don't have to'


LNN should focus on self-sustaining levels of funding from day one (i.e not depend on grants, but still get them as needed to expand).

Membership by local residents and sponsorship by local businesses.

Outside of the local municipality sponsorship and grant funding, mostly for startup and periodic expansion and technology costs.

Crowdfunding - by asking the community for funding, as needed, similar to to the processes you see used by entities like NPR or PBS, to donate monies to operate the day to day business of creating, collecting, curating and distributing local news and information.  This is, to a degree, happening now in Philadelphia with The Inquirer, The Daily News and


I've been thinking about this issue since the early 90's and quite honestly I'm not sure what the solution is or what the next steps really are.  I am pretty sure that no one else has the exact answer, yet.  Maybe we just need to get it going here in my town and see what happens.  I think it's time to start playing around more seriously with how we do this and one of the best ways to do that is to simply start.

Oddly, was actually available so, I just registered it. (no there's nothing there yet).

But, at least that's a start.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is (and isn't) fake news and why is it important we train ourselves to know the difference?

Fake News is everywhere, and no where.  It's undermining our 4th estate and it's being used by unsavory forces in truly scary ways.  

This post from a reddit user (Deggit) outlines what's really going on.  Every citizen interested in truth should read it.

There was a fascinating and brillant exchange on Reddit ( about 'fake news' that every citizen who wants to stay informed should read.  Here is the initial post (from reddit user 'DongMy') and then the reply (from reddit user 'Deggit').

From user DongMy:  

Actually a lot of fake news is being generated by the government itself now.  Obama repealed the law to prevent government propaganda and in 2011 removed the last remnants of the Fairness Doctrine which required broadcasters  to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced in order to help push his agendas.  When you consider 90% of the media is owned by 6 companies which includes all TV, radio, news and movies, most of which have a bias and agenda, this is a big problem.  It's no wonder the political division and fake news has gotten so much worse since he was elected.  Image of his post:

Response by user Deggit:

To anyone coming from bestof, here is the comment I was replying to. I have responded to many comments at the bottom of this post, hopefully in an even handed way although I admit I have opinions yall...

The view presented by this 1 month old account is exactly how propaganda works, and if you upvote it you are falling for it.

Read "Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible" which is a horrifying account of how the post-Soviet Russian state media works under Putin. Or read Inside Putin's Information War.

The tl;dr of both sources is that modern propaganda works by getting you to believe nothing. It's like lowering the defenses of your immune system. If they can get you to believe that all the news is propaganda, then all of a sudden propaganda from foreign-controlled state media or sourceless loony toon rants from domestic kooks, are all on an equal playing field with real investigative journalism. If everything is fake, your news consumption is just a dietary choice. And it's different messages for different audiences - carefully tailored. To one audience they say all news is fake, to those who are on their way to conversion they say "Trust only these sources." To those who might be open to skepticism, they just say "Hey isn't it troubling that the media is a business?"

Hannah Arendt, who studied all the different fascist movements (not just the Nazis) noted that:

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

Does that remind you of any subreddits?

The philosopher Sartre said this about the futility of arguing with a certain group in his time. See if any of this sounds familiar to you

____ have chosen hate because hate is a faith to them; at the outset they have chosen to devaluate words and reasons. How entirely at ease they feel as a result. How futile and frivolous discussions appear to them. If out of courtesy they consent for a moment to defend their point of view, they lend themselves but do not give themselves. They try simply to project their intuitive certainty onto the plane of discourse.
Never believe that ______ are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The ____ have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors.
They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. If then, as we have been able to observe, the ____ is impervious to reason and to experience, it is not because his conviction is strong. Rather his conviction is strong because he has chosen first of all to be impervious.

He was talking about arguing with anti-Semites and Vichyists in the 1940s.
This style of arguing is familiar to anyone who has seen what has happened to Reddit over the past 2 years as we got brigaded by Stormfront and 4chan.

Ever see someone post something that is quite completely false, with a second person posting a long reply with sources, only to have the original poster respond "top kek, libcuck tears"? One side is talking about facts but the other is playing a game.

Just look at what happened to "Fake News."

This is a word that was born about 9 weeks ago (note: actual date he's talking about is around the first or second week of November, 2016). It lived for about 2 weeks as a genuine English word, meaning headlines fabricated to get clicks on Facebook, engineered by SEO wizards who weren't even American, just taking advantage of the election news wave:

  • "You Won't Believe Obama's Plan To Declare Martial Law!"
  • "Hillary Has Lung, Brain, Stomach, And Ass Cancer - SIX WEEKS TO LIVE!"

For a while, it seemed like the real world could agree that a word existed and had meaning, that it referred to a thing. Then the word was promptly murdered. Now, as we can clearly see, anyone who disagrees with a piece of news - even if it is NEWS, not an editorial - feels free to call it "Fake News." Trump calls CNN fake news.

There is a two step process to this degeneration. First, one gets an audience to believe that all news is agenda-driven and editorial (this was already achieved long ago). Second, now one says that all news that is embarrassing to your side must be editorial and fabricated.

So who is the culprit? Who murdered the definition of fake news? A group of people who don't care what words mean. The concept that some news is fake and some news is not was intolerable, as was any distinction between those who act in good faith and sometimes screw up, vs those who act in bad faith and never intended to do any good - a distinction between the traditional practice of off-the-record sourcing and the novel practice of saying every lie you can think of in the hope one sticks. The group of people I'm talking about cannot tolerate these distinctions. Their worldview is unitary. They make all words mean "bad" and they make all words mean "the enemy.". In the end they will only need one word.


This post is so biased. I was ready to accept its conclusions but you didn't have anything bad to say about the Left or SJWs so it's clearly just your opinion.

Wrong (sniffle) "Fake News" actually means ____ instead

No, the term goes back to a NYT investigative report about some people in SE Eur who "harvest" online enthusiasm by inventing viral headlines about a popular subject, & who realized that Trump supporters had high engagement. This is no different than what the National Enquirer does (TOM CRUISE EATING HIMSELF TO DEATH!) except the circulation was many times more than any tabloid due to the Facebook algorithm and the credulity of their audience.

But what about the MSM? Haven't the media destroyed their own credibility with OBVIOUS LIES?? What about FOX News? What about liberals who call it FAUX News?

I remember Judy Miller as well as anyone, people. I also remember Typewritergate and Jayson Blair. And sure one can always go back to the Dean Scream or, as Noam Chomsky points out, the fact that Lockheed Martin strangely advertises on news shows despite few viewers can afford to buy a fighter jet... there have always been valid critiques of the media. But I am talking here about something different.

The move of taking a news scandal and using it to throw all news into disrepute is what this post is about.

Briefly in my OP (note:Original Post) I talked about the first step of propagandization, which is inducing a population to see ALL news as inherently editorial and agenda driven. This was driven by the 24 hours news cycle and highly partisan cable tv. We have arrived in a world where a majority of people think the invented term "MSM" (always applied to one's enemies) has any definitive meaning, when it doesn't. The most-watched cable news editorialist on American television calls a lesser-watched editorialist on a rival network "the MSM," when neither man is even a newsreader. It's absurd.

The idea that the news is duty bound to report the remarkable, abnormal, or consequential, has been replaced by the idea that all news is narrative-building to prop up or tear down its subject. We already saw this early in the primary when the media was called dishonest and frenzied just for quoting Trump. A quote can no longer be apolitical! If it's damaging, the media must have been trying to damage.

Once this happens, it is a natural next step to adopt the bad-faith denial of anything that could be used against you. This is what Sartre talks about; the "top kek" thought-terminator makes you "deliberately impervious" to being corrected. Trump denied he ever said climate change was a hoax even though he has repeatedly tweeted this claim over years; journalists collated those tweets; and the top-kekers responded by saying the act of gathering those tweets is "hostile journalism."

Pluralism cannot survive unless each citizen preserves the willingness to be corrected, to admit inconvenient facts and sometimes to admit one has lost. In that sense alone, the alt-right is anti-democracy.

Isn't the Left crying and unwilling to admit they lost the election? That's anti-democratic too.

I invite you to consider the response of T_D in the hypothetical that Trump won the popvote by 3 million, lost the Electoral College and it was revealed that HRC was in communication / cooperation with one of this nation's adversaries while promising to reverse our foreign policy regarding them.

"Sartre was a dick."

Top kek, analytic tears.
(Real answer: yes, he was but the point still stands).

You can see the entire thread on reddit here:

Special thanks to ggirl for pointing this out on her google + feed.

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I haven't really followed this guys campaign, but, I love the message he's got here. This is less than 5 minutes and it's deep...