News organizations don’t make money selling news, per se. They make money selling to advertisers, who are folks who want to make a sales pitch to consumers, and are in need of a vehicle to do that. News organizations historically sold physical space in print publications, and modernly they sell space online, and sell time in their broadcast products. The value of the space or time that a new organization has to sell is a function of the size of the readership. The more readers/viewers, the more dollars.
Media’s Need to Grab Your Attention
Nobody wants to pay money to read about everyday things. Therefore, readers aren’t attracted, and news money isn’t made, by reporting on the mundane, normal things in life. Money is made by drawing attention to the outlandish, the unusual, and the unnatural. By provoking an “OMG” reaction, if you will.
William Randolph Hearst was an American newspaper publisher who built the nation’s largest newspaper chain and media company, Hearst Communications, whose flamboyant methods of yellow journalism influenced the nation’s popular media by emphasizing sensationalism and human interest stories. He is known for saying “Don’t bring me a story about ‘Dog Bites Man,’ bring me a story about ‘Man Bites Dog!'” He knew how to sell newspapers, and made millions of dollars doing it.
Along similar lines, Robert Ripley became famous for bringing the world’s oddities and curiosities to the public, with his successful “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” franchise.
By definition, the “news” business is drawn by necessity to the extreme. In a conservative and moral society, those topics that portray non-mainstream happenings (i.e. “liberal” or “immoral”) will draw readers, simply because it is unusual. News people, always on the hunt for the strange and unusual, must go to where the strange and unusual people hang out. They develop relationships with radicals, extremists, and all manner of perverts and other societal non-conformists, because that’s where the sellable news originates. If they can maintain a personal relationship with the outliers, they are privy to the inside scoop. It is a self-perpetuating relationship, and over decades of living among the “weird” ones, the news people become so familiar with the unusual that they begin to relate to them on a personal basis.
As a result of the need for never-ending profit, a devolution of the business of news peddling was easily predictible, as the path was unavoidable, and certain to lead to self-destruction. Reporting exclusively from the left became an addiction for the media; a fatal attraction, as it were. This is what we are seeing today.
“Fake News” – A Struggle to Survive Pt. 1