The Economist and the Traditional Media

I have been reading the economist magazine for years and generally enjoying it. However, I have noticed recently that it is becoming ever more mainstream and politically correct. The economist used to be plucky and fairly contrarian with the generally right of center free market viewpoints.  But recently I’ve noticed that it has succumbed and given in to the pressures of conventional thinking.

I’ve realized in the latest issues that the economist wholeheartedly supports the party line on global warming, is a standard cheerleader for Keynesian economics, including supporting zero interest rates, endless stimulus spending, money printing, the deification of the Fed, combined with a lack of concern about the deficit, and a dislike of cuts in government spending.  In sum, it’s pretty much the standard elitist leftist Obamite viewpoint.

I still read the economist, but mostly for the comments section, which usually seems to have far more informative, honest and diverse opinions, man the staid conformist conventional thinking coming from the magazine’s editors.

I think the problem with the Economist is a problem of the traditional media in general, which is absolutely saturated with conventional thinking, political correctness and conflicts of interest, which prevent it from reporting honestly on a variety of subjects. Aside from the standard corruption that so often exists, the fact is that in well-established organizations a certain groupthink tends to prevail, and ambitious young journalists understand that if they want to get ahead with their careers, they’d better toe the line in their thinking, and agree with the conventional thinking. In other words, drink the Kool-Aid — or least pretend to — if you want to make it in the hierarchy. It is not long before almost everyone is thinking exactly alike, and no one dares to say anything that would challenge the collective groupthink.

Actually the conformity begins far before anyone takes his first job. The school system, and probably even more so the universities, make sure that politically correct conformity is hammered into people by the time they graduate. This is what the Mormons do with their young people to keep them in line. They use carrots and sticks to keep people motivated, and to keep a lid on any kind of dissent or criticism.  In the school system has made it very clear that if people want to get ahead, they had better conform, and if they dare to disagree with the ideology of political correctness, they will be mercilessly punished and made an example of.

So, when young university graduates go into the journalism business they are already primed to conform to the politically correct status quo. When organizations already have their own version of political correctness, this only reinforces what people have been taught their whole life. Anyway, the end result is that honesty and truth cannot exist in such an environment, any more than honesty and truth can exist within the Mormon community (or any other fundamentalist like community), simply because the system is set up squelch dissent and to reward groupthink.

So, if honesty and truth cannot prevail in a media organization, like the economist, then why read it?  I do so mainly because it`s free online, and because I enjoy the comments in the forum section. But, this raises a major problem for the traditional media, which exist off of people who pay good money for their journalism. No wonder the traditional media is having a lot of problems. With the advent of the Internet people can get all kinds of great information for free, which is usually far more interesting and informative. Why would they pay good money to hear a bunch of warmed over politically correct palbum from a traditional newspaper or magazine, when much superior material is available for free?

The fact is that the traditional media existed previously not because it had the best reporting, the best analysis, or the best ideas, but because it had control over the distribution networks. Before people could not simply propagate their ideas to the whole world without a large organization sponsoring them. Today with the democracy of the Internet, we can all express our ideas and they can reach everyone. With the monopoly on distribution broken, because of the Internet, the superficiality of the stories of the traditional media is really starting to show. People are less and less willing to pay good money to support a bunch of professional journalists, who are far more adept at playing the politics of political correctness, than they are at informing their readers with quality information. The reality is that there is no shortage of well-informed and smart people who are perfectly willing to give their opinions for free.

I see that the traditional media has two options: shut down the Internet, or adapt. We’ll have to see how things develop in the next few years.

http://www.economist.com/node/21525405

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2011/08/double-dips?page=1#comment-997727

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