It wasn’t supposed to be like this, I swear. When these here Intertubes came to prominence, the idea was that information would finally be free; that people would know MORE about this stupid world than they did before, because everyone would have a voice and because anyone, regardless of background, could find an audience if their (ugh) content merited it. The internet, like so many other eventually disappointing endeavors, promised to be the ultimate meritocracy. Journalism would finally be freed from stodgy-ass newspapers and the self-glorifying cigar boys running them.
That’s part of the reason I have spent the bulk of my career being a big snarky blog boy and goofing on traditional media outlets. Once upon a time, bloggers versus journalists was a very real and enjoyable feud. I definitely spoke about the blogging “community” as if it were a real and good thing. I used to listen to Tony Kornheiser drone on and on about newspaper boom times with whatever designated chucklers he could bring into the WTEM control room, and my eyes would roll into the back of my head. I took pride in Buzz Bissinger getting my internet handle wrong on HBO (BIG DADDY BALLS!) and reading something I wrote about “Rich Garces’s tits” out loud as an example of the decline of journalistic standards in America. I treated Fire Joe Morgan as holy writ.
The fun thing was how EASY it was to rattle so many of these career hot takers. Mike Wilbon, whose job is to formulate takes set to a televised clock, told Scott Van Pelt that “the notion of blogging scares the hell out of me.” Stephen A. Smith, who used to write entire columns on his Blackberry, used to rail against bloggers because, “someone with no training should not be allowed to have any kind of format whatsoever to disseminate to the masses to the level which they can. They are not trained. Not experts.” Bill Conlin, who turned out to be a child molester, once emailed a fellow blogger and told him that Hitler would have killed all the bloggers. This was meant as a compliment toward Hitler.
These were the bad guys. These were the cozy rich ELITE guys who got to deliver their takes from the mount and lashed out at anyone who dared question their authority. I remember goofing on beat guys too, because who needs a beat guy when the game is on TV and the box score is readily available online the second the game is over? The Athletic was hardly the first place to brag out loud that it was going to kill the local newspaper by being BETTER. That’s straight out of the 2006 Blogspot playbook.
Yeah well, they were killed all right. The Washington Post, which only thrives at the moment because it’s owned by history’s richest man, said yesterday that over 200,000 journalism jobs have been lost since the turn of the century. All the old-school media outlets I used to goof on are going under, and not because of superior competition, but because they’re all getting eaten alive by a roving band of deathless private equity dipshits. The New York Daily News just laid off half its newsroom, and it’s hardly alone in liquidating itself at the expense of the nation’s debtmongers. There’s more carnage on the way, and all of it will be bad.
It’s a shocking thing, to see something as open and vast as the internet become the ultimate weapon of the narrow-minded. Instead of knowing more about the world, people have used the internet to create worlds of their own and fully inhabit them. Facts are incidental, if not detrimental, to these worlds. You’ve heard all this sociology before, of course. But in 2018, with a Lizard Brain President in charge, you can really see the endgame taking form. Pretty soon, if not right now, the only factual journalism you’re gonna get will come from nonprofit groups, high-level access merchants, and anyone with a phone handy when shit goes down.
Everyone else will get wiped out. Misinformation will continue to flourish even more because it’s easy and because it’s profitable (ESPECIALLY for the likes of Facebook), and the enormous garbage patch of SHIT that is the current internet will grow at an exponential pace. For a long time, I thought bloggers and journalists were rivals. Then I thought that rivalry was just growing pains of a changing media landscape. Some bloggers would end up practicing actual journalism, and some journalists would end up blogging. The print culture and the digital cultures would merge, and we’d all sort it out.
Instead, EVERYONE is getting crushed. A bunch of greedy shits have discovered that facts do not work in their favor, and so they have conspired to impose their Reality Distortion Field on the rest of us. They are drowning facts any way they can: by suing the media out of existence; by buying the media outright and shaping its message to suit their own ends; by replacing the media altogether with Navy SEAL memes posted by your racist neighbor. So much awful shit is going to go unreported now, even more than before, because you can’t get outraged by evildoers if you don’t know who they are or what they’re up to. The joke is on me. I am the concerned old fart now. I am the easily rattled one. I am the one bemoaning the way things are now versus the way they used to be. Save for Conlin, I got the bad guys all wrong. They were lurking in the shadows this whole time, and those shadows are growing.