Three days before Hillary Clinton had a seizure on 9/11, Chris Cillizza of Jeff Bezos’ blog (WaPo) called my reporting on Hillary’s health a “conspiracy theory.” Today he is begging readers to subscribe to fake newspapers, making this false analogy, “If you can afford a monthly Netflix subscription, you can afford a monthly newspaper subscription.” The New York Times – owned by Mexican monopolist Carlos Slim – has similarly pleaded with readers to stop unsubscribing, with publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. telling readers, “We cannot deliver the independent, original journalism for which we are known without the loyalty of our subscribers.”
Brian Stelter, who works for a fake news media network that gave the debate questions to Hillary Clinton, implored his readers to, “Make the news better. Buy a subscription. Donate to a J-school.” (LOL!)
Fake news is desperate, and for good reason. Crowd funding is the beginning of the end for fake news.
If you don’t understand why, remember that Danger & Play – to borrow from Wayne Gretzky – shows you where media is heading, not where media has been.
First, a quick look at the past. To get hired at a “legitimate” publication, you’d need rich parents, the ability to work an unpaid internship, and connections. Legitimacy was defined by editors and publishers. To get access to readers, you’d have to persuade editors and publishers that you were the best and the brightest.
Imagine what that must’ve been like – the butt kissing, the glad handing, the refusing to ask tough questions because rich people travel in close circles. A tough story on someone might lead to editorial backlash. (There’s a reason devoted Cernovich stalker David Weigel wouldn’t write honestly about Hillary Clinton. He’d have lost his job!)
Now look at the future. The future of news is crowd-funded. Legitimacy isn’t defined by gate keepers. Legitimacy is defined by readers, as social media allows you to go direct to the people.
Consider Dave Rubin, Larry King’s protegé and formerly of the Young Turks, who is doing five-figures a month on Patreon.
Make no mistake – $25,000 for his production team isn’t “TV money.” No massive syndication royalties are going to roll in via crowd-funded news, but most people don’t go into journalism for the money. People want to make a difference in the world.
My own Patreon is doing over $4,000 a month, and I’ve received some one-off contributions. My Patreon is unique because none of the money goes into my pocket. My Patreon backers, via a private Slack and now conference calls, choose what stories we cover.
Crowd-funding movies others won’t produce. Case study: Cassie Jaye.
Cassie Jaye, an award-winning filmmaker, lost funding for her documentary on the men’s rights movement. Her financial backers learned that the film wouldn’t be a hit piece, and instead would seek to tell both sides of the story.
Milo Yiannopoulos wrote about Jaye’s plight. Me being me, I agreed to match up to $10,000 in contributions to her film. In less than 8 hours, we had collectively contributed over $20,000 to her film, and I was an Associate Producer.
— Mike Cernovich ?? (@Cernovich) October 23, 2016
Cassie ultimately raised over $200,000 for her film.
Silenced, a documentary on free speech, was crowd-funded.
Arnold Schwarzenegger created gym culture as we know it via a documentary directed by George Butler – Pumping Iron. Whether you know it or not, if you go to the gym to lift, it’s because of Pumping Iron.
The power of culture is something few appreciate. When you go to the gym, you assume it’s a free choice. In a way, it is your choice. But why do you have that choice in the first place? Arnold and George Butler, through the power of film, created gym culture.
- Pumping Iron showed me the power of films, which is why I wanted to “do the Pumping Iron of free speech.”
Silenced was crowd-funded, and my pitch was unusual. Most Kickstarter campaigns say, “If you don’t fund this film, it won’t be made.”
My pitch was different. I had already agreed to pay my Director to do Silenced. I wasn’t going to lie to you and thus told the truth: “This film will be funded by me. However you will want your name associated with Silenced.”
To my surprise, Silenced raised over $80,000. (I was expecting $20,000 as a low and $40,000 as a high.)
Crowd funding redefines legitimacy.
For being English majors, “journalists” haven’t seem to have read much sociology. Legitimacy is a social construct. For the media to maintain legitimacy, it must persuade readers and views that the news is honest and truthful. Are they succeeding?
Under the old model of media, legitimacy was defined by powerful gate keepers like editors and publishers.
Under the new model of media, legitimacy is defined by readers, viewers, and listeners.
Fake news is dead, even if they don’t know it. New media is has only begun to show its true power and influence.
P.S. It’s the weekend, which is a great reason to watch Silenced.