the demise of the newspaper

Why Social Media and the Internet Are Not Only Killing the Newspaper, They’re Killing Objectivity

Our American Founders were very wise. Having fled a monarchy where everything was at the whim of the king, and if he was malevolent, whatever evil he wanted to mete out was going to be successful. He was all powerful, often unfair, the high priest, the law, the judge and jury. This isn’t what they wanted in America, which is why when it was suggested to George Washington, who having a conquering army that defeated the then world’s only super power should become the king of America, he said (and I paraphrase), “Then why did we fight this war in the first place if we want to be subjected to a king, again?” And a republic was born.

However, they knew man’s proclivities. As Baron John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

But what if there were tattle tales all over the place, who could inform the people of what was happening in society, the halls of government and anywhere their eyes and ears could reach? They could share the facts, so people could make up their own minds. If the people knew what was going on and who may be abusing his or her power, they would rise and stop it. And, what if they were protected that even their sources wouldn’t have to be revealed, to ensure integrity and avoid repercussions? Those in power would have to think twice lest they be exposed and lose what they crave most – POWER! Hence the freedom of the press was in the First Amendment, prioritized to protect our hard-fought freedom.

Subscriptions, Advertising and Classified Ads

vintage newspapersFor the press to be objective, it had to ensure it could sustain itself. After all, if the government or any entity funded it, how could it bite the hand feeding them? Therefore, it would do so with three revenue streams:

  1. Subscriptions and Sales
  2. Advertising
  3. Classified ads

This became the working model that never changed. Which is why every news department for any media is all about advertising. You see, if they can convince you news breaks at their venue and if you want to be the first to know you should watch, read and listen to them, well, they can amass a sizeable audience. The bigger the audience the more they can charge for advertising.

The Loss of Objectivity

The Internet brought competition! No longer was a newspaper a local monopoly; people could know what was going on anywhere in the world by reading news online. So how do you attract an audience to your specific paper? You pander to certain demographics! If you could be the news outlet for Baby Boomers, Millennials, Liberals or Conservatives, Socialists, women or men, etc., you can target advertise and charge more for a higher-quality lead. Depending on what the brand was selling, one source may be the best marketing vehicle for them; hence what is it worth to the brand?

The problem is, once you start writing for a certain audience, in order to attract and keep them, you must pander. You went from a newspaper with journalistic integrity to a mouth piece for whatever message sells. This has been happening over the last 20 years and now is an accepted norm; which made the next transition a natural shift.

Social Media and Search Engines as News Aggregators – and Censors

With a smartphone in almost every pocket, and iPads and tablets within reach, it made sense to get news and information digitally.

  • Craig’s List for Classified Ads
  • Facebook, Twitter or Google for news

mobile surfingBefore long, power had shifted! Suddenly, these networks realized they could control what people see and read, and if they don’t agree with it, just block it and call it something politically correct. Newspapers tried to adapt but could not do so effectively. Facebook convinced them to share their content and then took over.

Now, IT companies were choosing winners and losers, blocking and/or removing what they didn’t approve of and pushing what they did. With remarketing technology, they know what you searched for and made sure wherever you went online, whatever they wanted appeared, based on your inquiry – shaping perspectives and outcomes.

If you are reading this article, it made it past the algorithms… for now.

What Does This Mean for You and Your Brand?

Since Google (the main search engine), Facebook (the main social network) and Twitter (where news breaks) have shown they censor Christians and conservatives, depending on your online history you may find your content getting no traction.

According to The Federalist and others, Google was found to be manipulating search results to bolster Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Breitbart and Project Veritas report that Twitter has been shadow-banning conservatives and Christians. Shadow-banning is when you don’t know you’re being blocked. Your post appears on your stream, but no one else sees it. The Guardian reports that Facebook has been censoring conservatives. They deem it “hate speech.” And, CharismaNews and World News Daily report Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple are censoring Christians.

Agree or Disagree is NOT the Point

Whether you agree or disagree with those perspectives is not the point. The fact that freedom of speech is being suppressed under the guise of political correctness or just because of plain old bias is disconcerting. Someday, someone who supports these views may suppress the opposite spectrum. Freedom of speech is NOT protecting what you like; it’s protecting what you hate – because THAT’S what will be censored, often masking truth no matter how offensive to you or distastefully presented. And, of course, we’re not talking porn or child pornography, or actual hate speech (which is losing it’s impact because so much that isn’t is being labeled hate for political purposes).

So Where Do We Go for Trusted News Now?

confusedThere are no trusted news sources anymore. One needs to read both sides and apply critical thinking to see past the bias and agenda. Unfortunately, this has led to tech-company cliques who control content and have an agenda, who may be preventing you from getting both sides. The local newspaper is irrelevant for anything other than local events and rummage sales.

So, must you pander to those in the thought police to market your brand? Maybe. It depends on how dependent you are on their platforms. If you have a history of expressing and supporting beliefs they oppose, you may find you’re getting no traction for your marketing. There is no easy answer on what to do, except be aware. You may have to think out of the cyberbox and get creative to reach your audience. I guess technology found a way around the First Amendment.

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  1. Rebecca Fahlin says:

    Great article! My advice to get to the truth in this age of Political Correctness and Fear of Another View Point Other Than You Own, is to read from a variety of news sources from different angles. I have found in my lifetime that those who are unsure of what they believe are the ones most likely to respond with in your face “Oh yeah, well you are a ……!”. People need to learn that just because someone does not agree with you on a certain issue or issues does not mean that they dislike or even hate you. For example, I have a niece that I don’t agree with everything she believes in but I love her dearly.

    • Eddie Velez says:

      Hi Rebecca,

      I agree. It stems from ignorance. The more you know the deeper your well to dip into to make a sound judgement. It also stems from insecurity. When one is ignorant, they pretend they’re informed. So they will defend their position no matter how harshly, simply to feed their self-esteem (or lack of it). Thank you for sharing!


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