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Friday, December 09, 2016

How the media can survive

The situation is dim.
  1. The media's credibility at an all-time low.
  2. Americans elected the presidential candidate the media almost universally hated.
  3. Technology is making the media obsolete.
Customers are leaving. Yes, the New York Times has said it added millions of subscribers upon the election of President Trump. That makes no sense. Why did the people opposed to President Trump not subscribe to the New York Times before then?

And by customers, I mean advertisers. From (ironically) the New York Times:
Across the country, those working in the newspaper industry are fretting as the end of the year approaches. Driving much of the anxiety is a steep drop in print ad revenue, once the lifeblood for newspapers. Spending on newspaper advertising in the United States is projected to fall 11 percent this year, to about $12.5 billion, according to the Interpublic Group’s Magna.
No end is in sight.

The media is pushing the federal government to regulate the news, which would create a barrier to competition to protect existing news outlets. The false meme of Fake News is an effort to protect the existing media, which routinely broadcast and publish fake news to push a socialist agenda.

Rather than improve their product, which would take a little work, the news media demand a ban on Breitbart News and the Drudge Report.

Even if Breitbart and Drudge disappeared, the problem would not. People will not return until the product improves.

Here is how to improve the product. I apply an article from Entrepreneur magazine.

1. Assess strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the news media is a history interwoven with the success of post-Civil War America. From newspapers to radio to three-channel TV, the media built a reputable and trusted industry.

The weakness is that it tarnished that reputation by toeing the Democratic Party line from Reagan forward. Many people forget, the media actually held Jimmy Carter accountable.

2. Re-evaluate the target market. The news media keeps targeting upscale adults 18-29 when most of their audience is over-50 and middle class. Only Fox News seems to get who their customers are.

3. Determine how customers benefit. Telling Trump supporters day after day that they are nothing but a dying breed of white nationalists is not a positive experience for them. Work on that. 

4. Craft a compelling story. The media has some explaining to do. Everyone knows they were rooting for Hillary. Everyone. More than half the people who bothered to vote did not vote for her. Pointing out the same is true for Trump does not erase the fact that the media backed the wrong pony and must explain what it intends to do about it.

5. Secure customer testimonials. I don't know of anyone on the Trump who is really satisfied with the media's campaign coverage, but if they can find someone, show him. More likely, emphasizing the non-political coverage would be a good thing about now. Roll out the coupons: Save $200 shopping with coupons in this week's Dacron Republican-Democrat.

6. Get employees on board. I really wonder if the conservative press room employees appreciated the Dallas Morning News or the Houston Chronicle for abandoning the conservative candidate this year. Need to reassure them this won't happen again.

7. Build a content factory. Customers are not dumb. They can get local weather and local sports scores quicker and easier on the Internet. Media no longer has a lock on this and must offer the basics in a more compelling manner.

8. Communicate widely. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Amazon have changed the buying experience.

And here is where newspapers, wire services, and other news outlets get in trouble. They have everyone on Twitter with no controls. When a reporter expresses an opinion online that reporter speaks for the news organization. Management needs to crack down. No tweets or Facebook posts by anyone (including the publisher) without being run by an editor first. Not even happy birthday, grandma. This is about survival, folks.

Wouldn't print it, don't tweet it.

9. Be consistent. Every day must be a battle to treat all sides to the stories fairly and evenly. The battle to regain their reputation does not end in 2017 or 2018, but follows the news media for the rest of its days.

10. Believe in the business. Optimism works! I worked with a person who viewed her job in the newsroom as feeding the daily beast. Such misery. And of course she did a terrible job. As Carole King sang:
You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
The people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel 
I do not know into which category this fits, but dump the pundits. Maybe category No. 7. Oh no not all of them. Keep the ones who have good cheer and never take themselves too seriously. And yes, cable news has to fill those hours with something other than Time-Life Records infomercials. But really, there are too many of them. Give the reporters more airtime, George Will less.

The one change I would make if I were dumb enough to own a newspaper would be to hire businessmen for executive positions instead of hiring within the newsroom. The latter is cheaper but you get what you pay for, and the train wrecks keep a-coming.


Have a little fun. Read "Trump the Press," in which I skewer media experts who wrongly predicted Trump would lose the Republican nomination. "Trump the Press" is available as a paperback, and on Kindle.

For an autographed copy, email me at 


  1. We have already passed "peak media." Their days are numbered. They are going the way of the dinosaurs, whether a slow death or a mass extinction. The future belongs to the lean and the mean, so long as they can maintain their credibility. Any errors, real or perceived, to distort the news can and should be enough to force the miscreant out of the business. The only thing I may miss is the crossword puzzle, and I have books of them. - Elric

    1. The only think I can't get elsewhere is the obits out of the local paper.

    2. Once inaugurated, Trump is going to go through 'em like a rip-saw through balsa wood.

    3. Our local paper (the sistyer outfit to Mr. Surber's former employer) puts it's obituaries online daily. - Elric

  2. Mike Cernovich may be young-ish and new-ish to the media game, but he understands it like no one else. In one of his interviews he noted that news media is over-populated, especially by like-minded opinions.

    To paraphrase one of his observations, if 75% of the online branches of the news media vanished tomorrow, you wouldn't notice a thing.

    Sure, you might visit the Washington Post or, say, the Los Angeles Times more often, because other outlets are gone, but you wouldn't *miss* them, because they made the same anti-conservative points with only a few words switched around.

    1. Don, I think you are too kind. Those in the media KNOW they are smart, and smarter than their public. That, I believe, is Hubris, and Hubris is followed by Nemesis, which is gonna beat the H outta Hubris.

      Local papers may survive. I have unsubscribed to mine.

    2. Hubris and Nemesis aren't bad, but Hulk Hogan had more personality.

    3. Nemesis don't NEED no personality.

  3. Until they quit being propagandists for the Dimocrat Party they are doomed to failure. Report news, not propaganda. Whatever happened to who what when where why?

    1. Don't forget How!

  4. Dacron Republican-Democrat? Wow, that brings back memories. Late 70's National Lampoon Sunday newspaper parody. What a hoot!

    1. I looked it up specially for you. Serious

    2. I have that in storage, somewhere.

      Did you read their "1962 High School Yearbook Parody"?

  5. Fake news is this year's people in pajamas in front of their computer.

    They want to save themselves? Ditch the Lefty agenda and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    1. You're assuming they can find and properly identify the Truth. Generous of you.

  6. Actually, Don, the death of the print media has long been an ambition of dogs all across the country.

    The Stategic Rolled-Up Newspaper Limitation Talks were the giveaway.

  7. Many people forget, the media actually held Jimmy Carter accountable.

    Meeeehhhh. They did not. I've been watching Carson reruns. I cannot believe how "in the bag" that [expletive deleted] little piece of [expletive deleted] was for the leftards.

    Bottom line: It has always been thus, and they are not to be trusted. The Tet Offensive was a month before I was born, and "the most trusted man in America" got on TV and painted it as a US defeat.

    There is no need to kill some horrifying number of leftards to reach the goal. Just teach them to STFU most of the time, and we can reach that goal without a single drop of blood shed. Pinochet taught us how to get past the incorrigibles to find cooperation.

  8. I dumped our local paper when they failed to do the one thing I can't get from the internet: LOCAL NEWS! Even their lefty politics, while disgusting could be overlooked. But when big, newsworthy local stories were left untouched while the local TV station websites covered them was the final straw.
    And the main reason Don, that your book will not be just a topical fade-away is that it should be required reading for any student of journalism, assuming that such a major continues to exist.

  9. I got interviewed by a girl named Sarah Mimms at CPAC earlier this year. She was working for Vice at the time. We exchanged emails and I offered up some constructive criticism after a piece she did that totally got it wrong on Trump. She basically told me to go to hell. Way to connect with your viewership! (Sarc alert) Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be journos...

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