Why News Websites Must Shut Down to Save the World (and Money, too)
I’d like to propose to refresh the way that online news is organized, funded and staffed by making just a few tweaks to the organizational and financial structures.
The Daily Ad-Hoc
Online news media that intends to influence opinion and feature the names of journalists should drop the ever-lasting names for their news organizations. As the push to destroy anonymity swallows us all, the name of an organization should be replaced by the name of its editor or owner. The owner can own several news magazines, but they too should be stylized with the name of its editor. Braddock Washington, owner of John Unger’s Daily Diamond, featuring columnists Jasmine and Kismine. Everyone in the know already talks about news this way, anyway — may as well go with it.
News magazines should be contracted to last a certain amount of time or until a certain goal is reached: This papers intends to re-elect Donald Trump in 2020, and will cease to be after the election in 2019. You’ll get more funding with the second proposal, and there will be no tolerance for shifty Rubio supporters looking to undermine the goal. Everything about a political goal is ad-hoc — why not the news coverage, as well?
How refreshing would it have been, if during the last election the news article was printed on a site that specifically said they were pro-Trump or pro-Hillary? Every site already has a political bent, it would be nice if they could just be honest about it for a change.
The All-Star Journalist, Good Ol’ Whats-His-Name
Adam Smith defended Scottish universities over English universities because instead of professors earning their pay from tuition poured into the wider school, Scottish students paid tuition to the maintenance of the school’s property and would then pay honoraria to their preferred professors. Professors would not start with a massive salary, it would be earned over time based on student approval. “I read in Breitbart that–” and “Rush said that–” are our two modes. And it’s faster to sour the left against the name of an organization than it is against the names of hundreds of authors. By attributing the ideas to authors (who happened to be published in such-and-such a magazine, which will be closed in a year anyway) we can ameliorate the friction we have with the left. So, hiring journalists off the bat with large salaries is not an incentive and will not produce happy customers, but putting good people on a stipend and spreading the revenue based on who reads what is both better for the magazine’s accountant and for the authors themselves.
Research suggests that almost half of millennials are less likely to remember the name of a news source than older adults within a few hours of reading the article, but that they are still most likely to access news by going directly to a news site. This trend is likely to continue, so I would expect single-owner aggregate sites (that bring together several single-editor magazines) are going to have less of an impact due to the name of the particular organization. But to be clear, people are more likely to remember the name of the news service if they go directly to their site or receive a direct text alert, but if they read it as shared by a friend, they are less likely to remember the source. One in ten people who get their news online are willing to say that the source for new article they read that morning was “Facebook.” So there is value in having an overarching name to encompass smaller ventures. We already see it in the network names on television.
“I read it on Facebook”
I assume that people will continue to follow names who own organizations, not the other way around. It is easier to develop a single “voice” on a Facebook page that posts 5-20 pieces every day with news or memes created by others that circle around that singular “voice” than it is to get 5-20 people at a single magazine to sound like they all agree on every topic. People are on social media to follow other people, so give them the owners, editors and journalists instead of the magazine name. And if you’re looking to fund your Trump 2020 news magazine, you’ll have an easier time finding initial deep-pocketed supporters because you know you’ll only be looking for three inclusive years worth of funding and a stretch goal of a victory party.
The magazine isn’t the name on the site, it’s the journalists who are paid by people who believe that they do good work. Kill the magazines more often to keep the left from disregarding our few news sources, and be honest about the goals of your organization.