New Media Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
The dinosaur media is in terminal decline but it will not go down without a fight, which is why the establishment is relying on a number of different techniques to remain relevant while strangling its competition.
Recent polls show that trust in mainstream media is hovering at record lows. Print journalism is fast becoming a distant memory as the establishment press rapidly loses its audience to independent media outlets on the Internet.
Far from accepting its fate meekly, the system has rolled out the big guns in a desperate bid to either eliminate or assimilate the burgeoning alternative press.
The latest example is buried within the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and concerns "intellectual property enforcement." Put simply, the agreement will mandate ISPs to remove online content without the need for a burden of proof or any kind of legal process, greasing the skids for aggressive and disproportionate censorship-driven takedowns.
"If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons," reads a Wikileaks statement. "If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs."
Another way the mainstream media is trying to strangle alternative voices that might challenge its narrative is by phasing out or banning article comments altogether.
Studies confirm that article comment sections – for better or worse – are heavily swaying public opinion.
Popular Science and BoingBoing.net recently announced their decision to kill comment sections on their website. The New York Times also recently indicated that it is scaling back comments and removing them from some articles altogether.
As an excellent Daily Tech piece highlights, Popular Science admitted that its decision to pull the comment section was in order to preach a “scientific doctrine” on global warming without being challenged.
The move to kill off comments altogether comes after a largely failed attempt on behalf of major companies and governments around the world to hire armies of paid employees to troll comments by disseminating pro-establishment positions in a bid to shift popular perceptions.
In 2010, the Canadian government announced it would, "monitor online chatter about political issues and correct what it perceives as misinformation."
Turkey, Israel, China, are just some of the governments openly hiring paid trolls to steer public opinion, while the Pentagon announced earlier this year that it is stepping up its public relations efforts in order to counter scandals about the U.S. government emerging on huge but non-establishment news outlets like the Drudge Report.
In 2011 it was also revealed that the U.S. government, "contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda."
Another way the establishment media will look to re-assert itself is by posing as alternative media - funding news outlets that purport to be independent yet are backed by government or corporate cash.
Large mainstream news organizations like ITN are busy creating offshoot platforms that present themselves as "citizen journalism" yet are ultimately bankrolled and controlled by the establishment media itself.
Meanwhile, large news organizations that initially operated somewhat outside of the influence of the establishment media, like the Huffington Post, are being quickly swallowed up by giant corporations like AOL.
The mainstream media will attempt to use all of these methods and more to either supplant or destroy independent voices that are not controlled by the establishment, which is why independent media needs to be more watchful than ever if the Internet is to remain a bastion of free speech and continue to provide a genuine alternative to the corporate press.