A Get Off My Lawn for the Ages

The publisher of Harper’s somehow thinks Google is responsible for the death of print. (via Jay Rosen)

“We’ll do it for you,” say Larry, Sergey, and Eric, and it will all be free! Now Larry, Sergey, and Eric are billionaires, while the average writer and teacher can barely make ends meet.

Thus proceeds the infantilization of the American public, hooked more than ever on superficial, unchecked information sometimes rewritten from more reliable, though uncredited sources. It’s no coincidence that Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yelp sound like toddler gibberish from the Teletubbies.

Whenever I hear these silly corporate names invoked with sanctimonious awe, I imagine Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po, and Tinky-Winky singing their hit single “Teletubbies say ‘Eh-oh’ ” as they shake the change out of some two-year-old’s pocket. Come to think of it, Eric Schmidt’s new playmate, the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, bears a more than superficial resemblance to Po.

Where will it end, as the dumbing down of America accelerates and Google becomes ever more dominant? […]

The whole thing reads as if it were tapped out on his Underwood portable after a few double bourbons, copy edited with a sharp #2, and handed to some hapless intern to “typeset”.

I value Harper’s, the New York Times and other media outlets struggling with the death of print, and wish them well. But I’d be a lot more sympathetic if I didn’t believe that most of their publishers had the same arrogant, clueless mentality as this jerk. Reading his rant, it’s as if A. Birch Steen, the fictitious, curmudgeonly public editor of the Seattle Stranger has come to life.

71 replies
  1. 1
    Another Halocene Human says:

    There was a lot of screaming when Google News came out, almost as if the public had free access to the wire services you used to have to pay for.

    But if it weren’t that, Twitter would have done it.

    Hell, tv yanked a lot of the newspapers’ ‘breaking news’ fire.

  2. 2
    Karen in GA says:

    I always thought “Google” was a play on “Googol.”

  3. 3
    c u n d gulag says:

    When newspapers and news magazines cut reporters and news bureau’s all over the country and world, and hire local stringers in their place, they shouldn’t be surprised when readership goes down because the quality of reporting goes down.

    The same goes for Cable and Network TV news shows, and viewers – I’m lookin’ at you, CNN!

    The NY Times today, is but a pale shadow of the NY Times of the 70’s.
    Ditto with CNN in the 80’s and early 90’s.

  4. 4
    Eric U. says:

    I continue to be amazed that newspapers pay people to write editorials. The quality is abysmal and some of those people don’t work cheap. Particularly if you consider that the high priced guys usually pay an intern to steal ideas from greater blogistan.

  5. 5

    A. Birch Steen or T. Herman Zweibel from the Onion.

  6. 6
    James Gary says:

    Um…online advertising, of which Google is undoubtedly the 800-pound gorilla, pretty much IS responsible for the “death of print.” It’s true that Harper’s editor comes across as a bit old and cranky–but I don’t really see how he’s fundamentally wrong.

  7. 7
    jibeaux says:

    Eric Schmidt’s new playmate, the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un

    So he’s calling them a bunch of preschoolers AND calling them poopyheads. Ok.

  8. 8
    Rustydude says:

    Do we know for sure that A. Birch Steen is ficitional?

  9. 9
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Ahem

  10. 10
    Bobby Thomson says:

    FFS FYWP, just because I wanted to post this link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGGrvn44LNA

  11. 11
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I like the internet, and I like print. It’s a shame the former apparently had to kill off the latter.

    And I think more people than you think will miss the old media when they’re gone, and I don’t just mean sentimentally like me. How many bloggers do original research for pay as opposed to analyzing the research of others? (Not that there isn’t a place for that, but someone has to do the legwork.)

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    I hate to interject a sensitive issue like politics onto what appears to have become a tech blog, but TPM is reporting the debt-ceiling debate is no more.

    But Obama should have minted the Amero anyway because Great Bags of Fire, that’s why.

  14. 14
    eemom says:

    Video killed the radio star.

  15. 15
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Frodo:

    “I’m a RESPONSIBLE gun owner! Don’t blame ME!”

    Brilliant logic from the prosecutor, by the way. Might as well say drunken driving isn’t a crime if you don’t hit anything.

  16. 16
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.....fpnewsfeed

    Not exactly “over”, but I’d call it a step forward.

  17. 17
    Donald G says:

    I’m sure the internet is giving a cheerful wave and a friendly, “Eh-oh, Tinky-Winky!” to the writer of the Harper’s piece.

  18. 18
    Studly Pantload, the emotionally unavailable unicorn says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: Hmm, TPM seems to have dialed back their initial take on the sitch since I last had looked. But the lock-step bellowing of “Our way or the highway” definitely appears to be crumbling.

  19. 19
    Pinkamena Panic says:

    Bitter, bitter tears.

  20. 20
    Mike E says:

    Hoocoodanode Terry Gilliam’s Brazil would become a viable print business model…

  21. 21
    gene108 says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I know several Libertarian types, who think drunk driving should not be a crime unless you hit something.

  22. 22
    gene108 says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I know several Libertarian types, who think drunk driving should not be a crime unless you hit something.

  23. 23
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Um…online advertising, of which Google is undoubtedly the 800-pound gorilla, pretty much IS responsible for the “death of print.” It’s true that Harper’s editor comes across as a bit old and cranky–but I don’t really see how he’s fundamentally wrong.

    @James Gary: He isn’t. But what did he think, that people were going to be “driving horse and buggies” until the end of time?

    Of course the internet was going to kill publishing. Of all media. Anyone with half a brain could have seen that coming as far back as the late nineties. If you failed to take steps to prepare, well, that’s on you.

    Video killed the radio star.

    @eemom: This. It’s not like anyone wasn’t warned.

  24. 24
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    MacArthur took over as president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine in 1983. That someone so non-infantilized missed the tidal import of the rise of the internet and failed to capitalize on it is puzzling.

  25. 25
    Roger Moore says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    When newspapers and news magazines cut reporters and news bureau’s all over the country and world, and hire local stringers in their place, they shouldn’t be surprised when readership goes down because the quality of reporting goes down.

    The problem is that they’re in a death spiral. They can’t afford the kind of reporting infrastructure they had in the good old days, which means they can’t provide the kind of reporting they used to provide. The lower quality content drives away customers, which further reduces the resources they have to provide good material. There’s no obvious solution unless they can come up with a way to generate more money from their existing customer base.

  26. 26
    Citizen_X says:

    like toddler gibberish from the Teletubbies

    New tagline!

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @James Gary:

    Um…online advertising, of which Google is undoubtedly the 800-pound gorilla, pretty much IS responsible for the “death of print.”

    It’s not Google ads that have really killed print media, though. Google ads give the web site they’re on money to provide content, which is pretty much the existing model. If they give less money than print ads did, that’s because they’re facing more competition from alternative advertizing venues, not because Google is squeezing them. The thing that’s really hurt newspapers is the loss of their old and very profitable classified advertizing revenue. The newspapers used to get a few bucks per ad for little one column, three line ads for cars, apartment rentals, help wanted, personal ads, etc. in the back section of the paper. Now that business has been pretty much taken over by on-line classifieds like Craig’s List, and the newspapers are struggling to survive without that money.

  28. 28
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Roger Moore:

    They can’t afford the kind of reporting infrastructure they had in the good old days, which means they can’t provide the kind of reporting they used to provide.

    This is true because their priorities are fucked up. There is (or was) money to keep the capitalists comfy but not to pay the professionals to do the work. So now they’re selling a product made inferior through their own fucked-up prioritization. Quelle surprise.

  29. 29
    PeakVT says:

    @c u n d gulag: you’ve got the order reversed. CNN didn’t cut back and lose audience to Faux. Instead, Faux appeared and took some of CNN’s audience because it told nice little stories about bad, bad liberals, and a lot of people want that kind of news-like product instead of real news.

    If this was a slightly saner country we could adopt a BBC-like model and fund a major broadcast media outlet, and some written media outlets to boot. But we’re nucking futz, and that has zero chance of either passing or working.

  30. 30
    300baud says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    How many bloggers do original research for pay as opposed to analyzing the research of others? (Not that there isn’t a place for that, but someone has to do the legwork.)

    I agree that somebody has to do original research, but I think that’s a terrible argument for newspapers. Newspapers were mostly ads, editorials, columnists, recipes, wire stories, stenography of the powerful, comics, classified ads, crime blotter digests, puzzles, and warmed-over re-reporting of other papers’ actual scoops. The internet can do those things just as well.

    I agree that some major papers would occasionally commit acts of journalism, and I applaud them for that. I would love to see more of it. But no defender of journalism should pretend that the average newspaper or magazine of 1990 was some sort of paragon of original reporting. Real journalism has always been a marginal activity.

  31. 31
    Anton Sirius says:

    They can’t afford the kind of reporting infrastructure they had in the good old days

    They couldn’t in the good old days either, at least not on TV. The news division was viewed as a loss leader for the network as a whole, whose value came in the form of prestige and brand loyalty not in dollars.

  32. 32
    Roger Moore says:

    @Frodo:
    Hoocoodanoed that people who lack proper training as security guards would do a terrible job? So which will come first, a guard shooting a student for no good reason or a reported rape?

  33. 33
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: Of failed to notice how dumb his chief rivals (TNR, Atlantic) were becoming. Harpers missed the net, but they also missed out on the Dowding of the opinion writers. The truth is, even if we had excellent reporters bringing us accurate facts, the opinion filters in the media are whacked. They couldn’t tell what is an important story and what parts of the story are actually worth covering.

  34. 34
    Brachiator says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    When newspapers and news magazines cut reporters and news bureau’s all over the country and world, and hire local stringers in their place, they shouldn’t be surprised when readership goes down because the quality of reporting goes down.

    There’s no connection between quality of reporting and readership. Morons flock to Fox News. They ain’t looking for quality.

    @Roger Moore:

    The problem is that they’re in a death spiral. They can’t afford the kind of reporting infrastructure they had in the good old days, which means they can’t provide the kind of reporting they used to provide. The lower quality content drives away customers, which further reduces the resources they have to provide good material. There’s no obvious solution unless they can come up with a way to generate more money from their existing customer base.

    Newspapers and magazines have longed relied on advertising. Subscriptions don’t provide enough to stay alive.

    The old ad models have died. The revenues from the Net are a trickle by comparison. Just not sustainable.

    Newspapers and magazines made a crapton of money in the 1940s and 1950s when the publications were narrow-minded jingoistic crap wrappers.

  35. 35
    Wally Ballou says:

    @300baud: You forgot horoscopes and prayers of the day.

  36. 36
    Linnaeus says:

    Eh, I think he has a point. Someone still has to produce the content that people expect (more and more) to get free.

  37. 37
    👽 Martin says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    But what did he think, that people were going to be “driving horse and buggies” until the end of time?

    The linked article is such a squidcloud of stupid, I won’t even try and unravel it – but he seems to be touching on a legitimate point:

    The problem isn’t that Google has innovated and modernized various aspects of the economy, it’s that they completely upended the economic model for a number of industries – and done it in a very destructive way – by eliminating the incentive for people to pay for content. Free is a very powerful economic concept – its one that is almost impossible to combat, and socializing all information sounds great, except when you’ve run everyone out of business who were in the role of collecting all of that information – and then you’re fucked.

    Google isn’t solely responsible for this, but they’re the ones that have promoted the idea as a core principle. And it’s not that the content is actually free, its that the cost of the content is to hand over a bit of your personal information and/or time, and Google will be the repository of your information and decide what to do with it. And so long as people are willing to pay that price, Google will continue to tear industries down that are based on much more direct economic models, and the quality of the content we have access to will continue follow the economics that allow it to be gathered and created. If content has no value to the public – no amount of money we need to pay for it – then it becomes, by definition, worthless. And that’s how much money will be invested in its creation. Investigative journalism gets replaced by stenography. It’s not a failing of journalism, but a consequence of an economic model that we all support.

  38. 38
    300baud says:

    @Wally Ballou:

    You forgot horoscopes and prayers of the day.

    Ugh. I did. Also, ugh.

    Upside: I never have to pay money again that will in part go to some horoscope charlatan.

  39. 39
    hitchhiker says:

    the average writer and teacher can barely make ends meet.

    I’m sorry, is that supposed to be a new development?

    There have always been a ton of good writers making their living in other ways. It’s always been nearly impossible to break into any wide audience that would translate into making ends meet. And I’m sure it’s sad for this Harper’s guy to be watching the system that happened to reward him well slip away.

    It’s just hard to feel sorry for him.

  40. 40
    Enhanced Voting techniques says:

    Beh I say! Beh! This article sounds like the slobs my girlfriend has to edit for who insist on using manual type writers in the 21st century because it’s to convenient.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    This is true because their priorities are fucked up. There is (or was) money to keep the capitalists comfy but not to pay the professionals to do the work.

    The problem is that there’s only money to provide immediate profits or a decent product but not both. The fundamental problem is that their business model is now broken. They may be profitable today, but the internet has not finished destroying their revenue streams. Sacrificing profitability today to keep their newsrooms staffed is the equivalent of temporary life support. It may keep them from dying immediately, but they’re doomed in the long term unless you can cure their underlying pathology. Until somebody can provide a replacement revenue stream, sacrificing profitability to keep the newsroom staffed is only delaying the inevitable.

  42. 42
    👽 Martin says:

    @Roger Moore:

    If they give less money than print ads did, that’s because they’re facing more competition from alternative advertizing venues, not because Google is squeezing them.

    Google gives less money because Google refuses to limit their ad supply. This is econ 101 – unlimited supply of a product is going to drive prices to $0. And the reason supply is unlimited is because the only limiting factor – the cost, as there are no raw materials here – drops as the supply goes up, so advertisers simply run more ads, which in turn lowers the price…

    And because the cost of ads is near $0 online, it’s undermined the cost of ads in other media.

  43. 43
    Brachiator says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Google isn’t solely responsible for this, but they’re the ones that have promoted the idea as a core principle.

    I blame Napster. Google was a johnny-come-lately.

    And as for newspapers, the parallel problem was not the idea of content for free, but the decline of display advertising and the rise of television (and even drive-time radio) as competing options for information.

    @Roger Moore:

    The problem is that there’s only money to provide immediate profits or a decent product but not both.

    Increasingly, people just don’t want newspapers. It doesn’t matter how good they might be.

    Some may like to think that US News and World Report, Life, Look, Newsweek, etc died because they somehow became crappy. But they just because irrelevant. Same with TV Guide, which used to be one of the most popular publications in the country. Anybody take a look at a Reader’s Digest? Does it even exist anymore?

  44. 44
    Gex says:

    The news media just ran with a story about a non-existent accident that killed a non-existent woman. So maybe they can STFU.

  45. 45
    Steeplejack says:

    [. . .] handed to some hapless intern copy boy [. . .].

    Fix’d for historical accuracy.

    ETA: It actually would have been typeset by a highly trained union member back in the day, but the copy boy would have been the one to tote the copy back to the “composing room.”

    Yes, I am old.

  46. 46
    shep says:

    Nothing has dumbed-down America more than the invention of the non-partisan he-said-she-said narrative and the death of objective truth at the hands of American print journalism.

  47. 47
    Maude says:

    @Gex:
    They gotta whine. the lack of accuracy irks me greatly.

  48. 48
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Roger Moore: Ding, Ding, Ding.

    The thing that’s really hurt newspapers is the loss of their old and very profitable classified advertizing revenue.

    The organization I used to work for would get a full page, right side ad the day of our starting rally from the NYT as a contribution. The Times assigned a value of $46,000 to it. Macy’s might have paid upwards of $86,000 for that same page at one time. But what really made the Times money were all the small employment ads and other classified ads. Other local papers also subsist on the local legal notices. Without that income, they’re dead.

    ETA: Newspapers and magazines never made money on their subscribers. Subscribers were icing on the cake of Advertising.

  49. 49
    Darkrose says:

    This is really interesting to me in the context of the Te’o craziness, because if there’s a winner in all of this, it’s Deadspin. interviewed Te’o for the Sports Illustrated cover story focusing on him and his girlfriend. The raw transcript excerpt is like a bad absurdist play (“SI: How did you meet her? TE’O: We met just, ummmm, just she knew my cousin. And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular.” Seriously?), but it’s what Pete’s Thamel says about the “red flags” he found that made my jaw drop.

    He couldn’t find a record of the girlfriend on Lexis-Nexis. He couldn’t find an obit, or a police report of the horrific car crash that left her in a coma for months. No one at Stanford had ever heard of her and she wasn’t in the alumni directory. So what did he do?

    He “wrote around it”.

    It’s not really all that surprising that a sports journalist acted as a stenographer, and it’s not like this is something important, like non-existent WMD’s. But it does kind of exemplify what the traditional media sees as their role–and that if they don’t do their jobs, well, someone else will.

    I know where I’m going to go first for general sports news from now on, and it sure as hell won’t be SI or ESPN.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It’s that, but I will also maintain that the massive consolidation of the kinds of businesses that used to take out lots of newspaper ads has hurt them in a major way.

    Just by way of example, when I first moved out to California in the late 1980s, there were four major midrange department stores I used to shop at: Bullocks, The Broadway, Robinson’s, and the May Company. All four of them have been assimilated by the Macys Borg, which means that four sets of competing advertisements that used to run in papers like the LA Times are now just one ad from a single store, and you’d better give a nice discount or they’re not going to bother to run it at all.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, if you haven’t had to pay to run a death notice (aka paid advertisement) in your local paper lately, HOLY FUCK IS THAT SHIT EXPENSIVE. I just paid almost $800 to the Chicago Tribune, and it’s going to be another $400-ish for the suburban paper.

  52. 52
    Darkrose says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah, it really is. Tip: Get both papers and confirm that it ran. We had the funeral home send one in for the Trib and Sun-Times when my mom died, and it turns out that only the Sun-Times one ran.

  53. 53
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    It’s that, but I will also maintain that the massive consolidation of the kinds of businesses that used to take out lots of newspaper ads has hurt them in a major way.

    That’s probably true. I also assume that Amazon and Ebay just aren’t going to take up the slack from all the bricks-and-mortar retailers they’ve been driving out of business. When they advertise, it’s mostly online.

  54. 54
    WereBear says:

    It’s not true that people won’t pay for content.

    I pay for Sirius Satellite radio, because the 30 ads/1 song ratio on the airwaves is not worth being free. This Christmas, we bought an Amazon Prime subscription, because of their streaming video library. And I have devoted fans who donate to keep the Way of Cats going, because I’m so popular I can’t pay for my own bandwidth any more. Some of these same fans buy my Kindle Book, Cat 911, because they are willing to pay for content that solves their problems.

    Crap now… there is abundant crap out there, for free. And apparently, there is a market. But it’s really broadcast vs. cable.

    And we still have both.

  55. 55

    @Eric U.:

    I continue to be amazed that newspapers pay people to write editorials. The quality is abysmal and some of those people don’t work cheap. Particularly if you consider that the high priced guys usually pay an intern to steal ideas from greater blogistan.

    If only they stole ideas from out here – it would improve the quality of editorial and op-ed pages greatly.

    I know that at some point we’re going to have to pay for real reporting, but when a newspaper (hi, WaPo!) spends a shitload of money to have a bunch of reactionaries like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, Jennifer Rubin, and Marc Thiessen on its op-ed page, plus a bunch of useless bozos like Richard Cohen, Robert J. Samuelson, Anne Applebaum, and Ruth Marcus, it’s hard to be too sympathetic to their plight.

    I feel like saying, “sure, I’ll help you – but first you’ve got to help yourself.

  56. 56
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Darkrose:

    I think Deadspin has some good writers, but it’s by and large not a sports site. It’s a sports site for people who are really more interested in celebrity gossip. And this isn’t a sports story, it’s celebrity gossip about a guy who happens to be an athlete. Deadspin’s forte is paparazzi-style panty-sniffing and scandal-mongering, and this time they found something.

  57. 57
    Lancelot Link says:

    I, for one, will miss the kind of objective truth-seeking exemplified by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Remember the Maine!

  58. 58
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Darkrose:

    Good point! I did it myself on the Trib’s website, but I’ll make sure to have my mother-in-law pick up a paper on Sunday and make sure it actually ran.

  59. 59
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: An excellent point; retail MUST shift to online, because all that overhead of the store and the parking and the heating and the cooling… it’s not necessary any more.

    My MIL hates when I say this, because “I like to see and touch the stuff I’m buying.”

    My reply is, “They DON’T CARE what you want. They really don’t.”

  60. 60
    300baud says:

    @👽 Martin:

    And the reason supply is unlimited is because the only limiting factor – the cost, as there are no raw materials here – drops as the supply goes up, so advertisers simply run more ads, which in turn lowers the price…

    That’s not true. Google sells eyeballs to advertisers. Content is eyeball bait. So the supply limits are a) how much time people have, and b) how much interesting internet content there is.

    The reason the prices keep going down is that the amount of content and the amount of internet use is going up faster than advertising demand.

  61. 61
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @WereBear:

    Well hell, fucking everything is ‘overhead’ if you look at it that way. People are overhead, jobs are overhead, communities are overhead. Maybe one day we’ll have a magical future where all anyone ever does is sit at a computer and click on what they want and it’s 3D-printed for them without ever having to get up. Can’t wait!

  62. 62
    Rex Everything says:

    It’s no coincidence that Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yelp sound like toddler gibberish from the Teletubbies.

    The word “google” originated in mathematical science; “Yahoo” was coined by Swift in one of the undisputed classics of world literature; “yelp” has been in the lexicon for at least 5 centuries; “bing” comes from a Scandinavian word meaning, fittingly, a store of provisions. How can a person capable of such ignorance wind up in charge of one of the U.S.’s most respected magazines?

  63. 63
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Lancelot Link: Yeah. They like to think that they are Woodward and Bernstein or Murrow. But there really aren’t that many like them. They fucked that up when they started to put “Gate” behind every scandal and then really went off the rails in the Clinton administration when they decided to invent a whole bunch of Gates and speak truth to sex. But Murrow. They’re really just like Murrow.

  64. 64
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Uhhh the Internet did make writing cheap to free and helped impoverish writers by turning copy jobs over to AOL and Gawker type setups. That’s pretty clear.

    Just read Vonnegut in Palm Sunday as he advises writers to not be picky and to take freelance copy jobs to feed themselves. Most of those jobs now pay a few cents per word.

  65. 65
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    Maybe one day we’ll have a magical future where all anyone ever does is sit at a computer and click on what they want and it’s 3D-printed for them without ever having to get up. Can’t wait!

    Yeah, sounds terrible?

  66. 66
    LanceThruster says:

    hooked more than ever on superficial, unchecked information

    Au contraire! It is thanks to the magic of search engines and various online content that I’ve found just how poorly various MSM outlets (print & broadcast) do in providing facts and valid context.

    The emperor has no clothes.

    While I do hope a business model can be devised to allow the worthy to survive and prosper, I will shed no tears for the clowns that brought about their own demise.

  67. 67
    LiveFreeOrWatchTV says:

    I value Harper’s too, and have read it for years; it’s a great magazine. True, MacArthur’s rant is over the top, but so is your reaction. (And frankly, regarding your comment about the “few double bourbons”…you don’t? Really?)

    He makes several absolutely valid points:

    “Google’s systematic campaign to steal everything that isn’t welded to the floor by copyright.” Can’t argue with that one.

    “Google’s bias for search results that list its own products above those of its competitors.” Yep.

    “Bias that elevates websites with free content over ones that ask readers to pay at least something.” True again.

    “Thus proceeds the infantilization of the American public, hooked more than ever on superficial, unchecked information sometimes rewritten from more reliable, though uncredited sources.” This is absolutely number one. As far as I’m concerned, this is a huge problem in the US. The worst part, however, is that the sentiment is true far too often even for paid, “mainstream” media.

  68. 68
    LanceThruster says:

    @Lancelot Link:

    xD

    My favorite bit of trivia re: WRH was his two word message to his editors in order to elevate the status of a certain backwoods preacher —

    “Puff Graham.”

  69. 69
    Michael57 says:

    The Internet IS killing a lot of things that have value and replacing them with infantilized dreck. I mean, I don’t see how you can argue with that basic point.

    Traditional structures are not bad just because they aren’t shiny and new.

    “Creative destruction” is a concept in business that benefits the few–Jobs, Bezos, Larry et al.– and you defend it because you think you’re part of their tribe. Well, you aren’t. The rich are different. And I don’t see how your argument celebrating the death of culture is different from impoverished rednecks defending low taxes for the rich.

  70. 70
    Wat says:

    Thus proceeds the infantilization of the American public, hooked more than ever on superficial, unchecked information sometimes rewritten from more reliable, though uncredited sources.

    That’s right! We should demand that only highly-edumacated professionals be allowed to spew out barely-paraphrased press releases! The gall of these other hacks to try and horn in on time-honored-traditions!

  71. 71
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Brachiator:

    Anybody take a look at a Reader’s Digest? Does it even exist anymore?

    You’re a lucky one. If you spent any time at all in doctors’ offices, you’d know Reader’s Digest is still going strong.

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