Comment: Complex subject

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Complex subject

Oh sure, there are people who don't want to know that they have cancer

Nor do many people want to listen to news that tells them that their country is a war monger, goes around killing innocents, does so with their tax money, and for nothing except to prop up the value of the dollar and serve special interests. That's just one example of many when it comes to "news many people don't want to hear". These same people tend to love hearing about "American exceptionalism" and how we are the good guys spreading democracy and freedom.

Michael is concerned that once the current presidential election is over, that his web traffic will drop off like it did in 2008. Why?! Because of the new bumper crop of competing websites that will be sprouting up to report the truth?

We all have limited time. The primary site I follow is zerohedge. During the campaign I have shifted a lot of zerohedge hours over to the dailypaul, but it means I am unable to keep up with zerohedge -- a lot of the time I don't even have the time to skim the article summaries before they get shifted out in to some historical page I will never visit. Even my trips to the local coin shop to stock up on precious metals have practically slowed to a stop for this campaign.

Flipping your question around may highlight the issue: Why wouldn't people spend more time at the dailypaul during the Ron Paul campaign?

Why doesn't the free market work in journalism?

There's a fundamental incompatibility between journalism and the free market "reward production" mechanism, and I don't have any good solutions. Free markets require that the person who produces a product be able to reap profit from that product. It's no good if you make a widget and then someone can steal that widget from you and sell it for their own profit. If that happens to you on a regular basis, your motivation for producing widgets in the first place gets destroyed. If it happens all over the place on a regular basis, the entire widget market gets destroyed. Likewise, if a drug company can invest a billion dollars into researching and testing a new drug only to have it immediately and cheaply reproduced by other drug companies, the motivation to spend any money at all on R&D is destroyed. If a journal spends significant resources digging up stories, only to have the essence of every story immediately reproduced for essentially zero cost by everyone and their brother, the motivation to expend such significant resources on investigation is destroyed.

So the incompatibility is that copyright only allows intellectual ownership of the specific words and images put together. It does not (and arguably should not) allow intellectual ownership of the truth. But when it comes to the news, the truth tends to be the most important part, the part that consumers value (or at least should value) the most. This destroys the market for the truth because "the truth" (or at least what any given notable journal is pushing as the truth) can be had for free in any number of other places. It does, however, leave the "entertainment, polish and production values" 'news' market intact.

The above is just one incompatibility though. Many of the other comments here have made good points as well: The news media has multiple masters (and advertisers have more direct control than consumers). People can't tell just by listening/seeing something whether or not it is the truth which makes it difficult for them to only buy the truth. The MSM is believed by many to be "the legitimate source of news" (and these people will assume contrary news is just from an illegitimate source).

It IS more work to DISCOVER the sources of truth. But once you know where to look it is as easy to access.

I wouldn't count on that. You can find lots of truth at zerohedge and here at the dailypaul. You can also find a lot of bad information at both places. People have to sift through the information themselves and remain ever vigilant, but most people are not taught the skills necessary to perform this task effectively and efficiently, nor are most people willing to put forth the effort. There's also the self-interest factor, where unless the truth is directly beneficial to you personally (as opposed to informing you how to vote correctly where the benefit of one vote is spread rather thinly among many), self-interest means people focus on other things that do benefit them directly.

Maybe that's the biggest incompatibility between the free market and the truth. You can't actually buy the truth -- all you can buy is things someone else claims to be the truth. Everyone has to discover "the actual truth" for themselves.

Extortion DOES have a chilling effect. But like prohibition of substances, it does not decrease demand, it only drives the price up.

And what if it pushes the price up higher than the average person is willing to pay?

With the ability "to get news from millions of sources", why is the public returning to the same polluted troughs?

That's like asking "with millions of pieces of hay in a stack, why doesn't the public just grab the needle?". When people get online, they already have a set of biases in place. Those biases will tend to drive them to places like huffingtonpost and redstate and other worthless sites. It takes a certain mental makeup (and/or maybe a bit of luck or help) to start correcting those biases and perform an effective search for truth.

some (unconfirmed) quotes I've collected:

If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. - Malcom X

The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. - Thomas Jefferson

If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. - Mark Twain