I don’t particularly care for Facebook or Twitter. I do have a personal Facebook account, but I rarely use it other than to connect with an old friend on occasion. I have little interest or time to read everyone else’s self-aggrandizing yet mundane personal details.
However, for our line of work – blogging, political commentary, reporting – it’s no secret that social media is vital. It’s just the reality of the business. If you want to have a readership for your particular political website, you have to have an internet presence, driven mostly by social media, to drive traffic.
Numerous media outlets and newspapers have done ‘exposés’ lamenting the rise and popularity of ‘fake news’ that supposedly led to the downfall of Hillary Clinton. They complain that conservative sites like this one (they’ve actually mentioned Eagle Rising specifically on a number of occasions) have a bigger social media reach and garner far more shares than ‘real’ news sites like CNN and ABC News, because we craft false and/or misleading headlines, while they – according to them – craft clear, truthful, and unsensational headlines. How unfair that the ‘fake news’ is far more popular than the ‘truth.’ And they usually couple that observation with some somber commentary about what that says about our society.
Part of the mainstream media’s narrative is that websites like this one craft false or misleading headlines in order to get people to click, which helps to generate ad revenue for that particular site. They explain the whole business model as if it’s some sort of scam. As if conservative political website managers are doing this to ‘get rich’ off unsuspecting internet perusers. Trust me, if it made me rich, I wouldn’t have to have three separate jobs to provide for my family. Just saying.
Let me explain some very important distinctions (and striking similarities) here. The big news media networks like CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. might have trouble with their social media reach, because they primarily use television as their platform. They make plenty of money that way. Their business model is still essentially the same as ours. They use a series of 30 to 60-second advertisements from companies who pay big bucks for time slots. The amount they pay is dependent on how many viewers are watching at that particular time. The more viewers there are, the higher the ratings, and the more advertisers have to pay.
Media networks make hundreds of millions of dollars using this business model. They may not use written headlines (I suppose chryons count), but they have their own teasers and cliffhangers. “You won’t believe what we uncovered…find out more after the break.”
Wait, they’re just doing that to get you to keep watching and to keep their ratings up so they can make more money! It’s all a scam!
(I was being sarcastic, but that’s exactly what they say about us.)
And then you have to suffer through a few commercials – one for a Procter & Gamble product, one from some giant drug corporation, and maybe one from a big auto company. And then once they bring you back from the break, you find about that there wasn’t really anything that was ‘uncovered.’ Think Rachel Maddow and Trump’s tax returns. But this is their business. It’s how they make money. They reel in viewers, increase their ratings, and rake in ad money.
In contrast to that, we have zero TV presence. We’re not dealing with filthy rich corporations who want to dump millions to advertise on our website. We’re stuck with internet ads. That’s the number one complaint I get from readers on this website.
Full disclosure – I hate the ads too. But they’re the equivalent of TV commercials (although not as funny or well-produced, and not nearly as long…you just have a few seconds before the ‘X’ appears, and then you close it) and radio commercials. Yes, there are racy internet ads, just like there are extremely risqué TV and radio ads. That’s the price you pay for “free” access to TV shows, news, and radio shows. Internet ads are how we’re able to provide “free” access.
And let me tell you, we’re not getting rich from this. There are relatively few internet personalities – Matt Drudge for one – who have made it big, but they’re the outliers. This is a difficult business for most of us.
Social media is our main platform. Because it’s our main platform, of course our headlines are going to be different from mainstream media’s headlines. If they wanted a bigger social media reach, all they have to do is change the way they headline. This would be like our complaining about how “unfair” it is that we have no TV or radio presence.
This is why Facebook’s ‘crackdown’ on ‘fake news’ is so detrimental to us. That’s largely where our traffic comes from. It’s our livelihood. And I understand that Facebook is a privately owned company, and that in reality, they can do whatever they want. If they want to openly ban conservatives and only allow liberals, that’s their prerogative.
For some of you this won’t matter because Facebook. You think Mark Zuckerberg is a weird sociopath, that it’s a cesspit of festering left-liberalism, that social media is a waste of time. Yes I get that – but you don’t work in the media, whereas I do and for all of us in the communications industry whether we’re writers, entertainers, journalists, bloggers, vloggers or podcasters Facebook is a big deal because so much of our audience is on it. And it’s as important to those of us on the right as it is on the left. Breitbart, for example, gets a lot of its traffic via Facebook. Milo – never knowingly left-wing has a huge Facebook presence. The idea that we on the conservative side of the argument can afford to ignore a market of one billion potential readers because Facebook is run by liberals is just dumb.
If you accept – as logic and facts dictate you should – that Facebook matters, then you should be very, very worried about the direction in which it is headed. That’s because the people it’s going to hurt most are people like us: Brexiteers, Trump voters, climate sceptics, conservatarians, lovers of offensive memes involving cartoon frogs or gorillas, anti-feminists, piss-takers, anyone in fact who dares to set themselves against the politically correct values of liberal elite types like the guys who run Facebook.
One of the very worst things about the market domination by Facebook and Twitter is that it enables the kind of people who normally loathe free markets, property rights and enterprise to pose like they’re libertarian conservatives. “Oh, so you don’t like the rules on Facebook and Twitter? Well, they’re private businesses and they can make up what rules they like. If you don’t like them, go somewhere else…”
We often use the ‘fake news’ moniker right back at the mainstream media. They are after all the ones who came up with the term to disparage conservative outlets. It’s important to understand that our reciprocating the name-calling isn’t simply a petulant response on our part. By their own definition, they are as much ‘fake news’ as we are.
The difference is that they have tons more money and resources, script writers, makeup artists, producers, editors, reporters, top-of-the-line equipment, graphics, etc. They are high-end fake news.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com