The press, hammered by lost advertising revenue, are now little more than copy and paste merchants. The result is the “reality” politicians see is increasingly an uncritical mirror of themselves.
We’ve all seen the graph below. This shows that the “reality” as believed by the scientific establishment has increasingly diverged from the reality of the climate. Well, the same thing is also happening in politics.
The road on which I live isn’t very long, yet we have two journalists living here. One used to write on health and education – but now she doesn’t. The other used to write on important things like government policy, but now he laments the good old days because he hardly has time to read the press releases he edits into the paper let alone critique them.
They are both victims of the internet revolution. Before the internet, papers had massive revenues from advertising. As a result they could employ lots of journalists to fill the space between the adverts. Then along came the internet and this is what happened:
Advertising revenue fell off a cliff and with it still continuing in its death spiral downward, the industry has been shedding journalists left right and centre.
The biggest story never printed by the press – it’s own demise!
Donna Laframboise who runs the blog “No Frakking Consensus“, is another example of the biggest story that was never printed: the story of the death of mainstream print journalism. All over the story is the same. Just over a decade ago, the print press was full of highly intellectual people sifting and commenting on news.
Today it is full of copy and paste editors who aren’t even reading much of what they print let alone commenting on it. Yes, the odd journalist is still employed to write thoughtful pieces of high brow subjects. Yes they still comment on the top stories. But unless you are one of the top politicians, top universities or big companies with the PR staff staffed from all those redundant journalists, to prepare your print ready press releases that can just be copy and pasted with very minor edits, unless it is world shattering news, your press release now gets dumped in the trash.
So, people like us skeptics haven’t a chance. Even if we send them a press release, we lack the credibility that journalists need to copy and paste our work. And those who are dry academics who have the credibility almost invariably lack the journalistic skills to make our dry boring material attractive enough for the copy and paste boys.
So, paradoxically, at a time it is easier than ever for the electorate to go and find high quality discussion online in the thousands of blogs, it is more and more difficult for the political elite of the western world to see anything other than a diet of their own barely touched, barely commented diatribes.
So very literally, the press has become a mirror!!
The mirror is their own publicity telling them how “with it” they all are. How they constantly talk about the “important issues” that the press talk about. And as a result, there is a growing disconnect between the world the political elite thinks exist (the one in the mirror of the press) and the one that really exists on the blogs and social media which the electorate inhabit.
The crunch will come at the elections. Indeed, in a real sense, we’ve already seen this crunch in the European elections where UKIP wiped the board.
The best analogy I can give is that it’s like driving a car with the windscreen misted/frozen up. That would be bad enough, but because the press keep telling the politicians “everything is fine”, “everyone loves you”, “you’re talking about the things that matter” the politicians don’t even know the view they have of reality is increasingly obscured.
Perhaps the better analogy would be the drunk – who still thinks they are perfectly capable of driving as they weave and wobble across the road until they finally crash and burn at the side of the road.
But it gets worse!
Not only are the press failing to do their job of keeping the politicians informed, but so are the public! Before the internet, if we had a strong view on a subject of public interest, we would write to a paper, write to our MP, write to someone “important”.
That was when there was no real alternative. But, these days, rather than wasting my energy knowing they don’t want to listen, like so many other people, I go onto the internet to express my views.
And that is entirely self-enforcing. Because if I feel e.g. that the Glasgow Herald will not print any letter on climate – I don’t write to the Glasgow Herald – and if I don’t write, then they won’t print anything from me – and so other people interested will feel that the Glasgow Herald will never print anything they write. And soon, all those who used to write letters to the Glasgow Herald are no longer doing so because “they never print anything that is skeptical”.
And then what happens when we go online? We meet other people who re-enforce our view that we are right and the politicians are wrong. And this is happening not just on climate but almost every political subject meaning there are growing numbers of the electorate who are getting more and more angry that the views we read every day are not being carried by the papers or being heard by the politicians.
This I think is why climate has failed to bottom out
Anyone who has followed climate online has seen the dramatic tide turn against the global warming alarmism. What however has not turned is the views being printed in the media, then regurgitated on TV and expressed by politicians.
There is a massive and growing disconnect between the politicians and the people: between what the public actually think and what the political elite are led to believe we think. Twenty years ago, the public & politicians would be hearing the press “doing its job” mocking the stupidity of the politicians. Today most journalists don’t have the time to get involved in a critical review of the politics and the politicians don’t have the time to read anything other than the press. So the views of ordinary people on the blogs are being ignored or dismissed as “isolated nutters”.
The reality is that the sum view of these “isolated nutters” is in fact the view of the electorate, and the real “isolated nutters” are the politicians who will crash and burn at the next elections.