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  • Network Effects, My Boy, Network Effects. . .

    Posted by Jonathan on September 11th, 2004 (All posts by )

    Bill Quick explains the incentive structures that respectively contribute to old-media dishonesty and make the blogosphere both more honest and an effective check on the old media’s tricks. Worth reading.

    (via protein wisdom)

     

    3 Responses to “Network Effects, My Boy, Network Effects. . .”

    1. Shannon Love Says:

      (Cross posted at Daily Pundit)

      I think another powerful economic incentive creates a powerful group-think within old media.

      The true product that old media sells is veracity. “CBS News is news you can trust” says the commercial. People buy media because they trust it. Every old media outlet relies on it’s consumer accepting what they say by default. If they lose that trust, they are destroyed.

      This dynamic means that it is in each outlets interest to never be proven wrong in their assertions. In the old days, only another outlet could challenge another’s assertions. Old media quickly reached a form of market place détente were each media outlet did not question the major assertions of each other’s stories.

      Old media competes to get to a story first (a scoop) or to cover stories no one else would. What they do not do is aggressively question the major premises of each other stories. That way would lead rapidly to mutual destruction. For any large story, it is in the interest of all old media players to adopt a central narrative and then stick with it. It’s a form of market collusion. They each protect their respective reputations for veracity by presenting a united front to their customers. Anyone who breaks from the herd and deviates from the narrative risk having the rest of the media question their veracity and therefor destroying the trust that consumer have in them.

      As a consequence, old media can’t seriously question itself. Nobody wants to be singled from the herd for holding contrary ideas. There is no real give-and- take of ideas and assertions in the old media. Once the big players have established a narrative everybody has to play along.

      Those days are over. Packs and swarms on the internet are picking off the herd members one by one.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      I think you are right. Very insightful comments.

    3. MatyaNoBaka Says:

      Well, i’m certainly glad the blogs are here, just as i’m glad National Review is available.

      But i don’t think that blogs are particularly more unbiased, or less prone to errors of fact than the mainstream. People speculate, they check facts they disagree with more carefully than facts that they want to believe. Blogger or NYT reporter, doesn’t matter.

      Nor do they necessarily convince those who are not already converted. Deaniacs and the neo-Jacobins can look at blog demonstrations that the CBS papers were a forgery with the same “So what?” attitude that i look at “facts” or projections in a Krugman spiel. Assuming i read one…

      What blogs do is provide an alternative, where someone who wants to find the non-mainstream view has a chance of doing so. Yes, the network effect helps some in making corrections available. But only for those who want to know the correction.

      I’m sure, if i wanted to waste the time, that i could find plenty of fact checked blogs that prove that the recent tax cuts destroyed the economy. Or that the Swift Boat Vets for Truth were bribed, coerced, or at least a direct adjunct to the Bush campaign. But that’s not the kind of correction i will spend time looking for.

      Matya no baka