I have been researching about the news and media, particularly how advertisement tends to influence the content we receive. The book, Attention Merchants by Tim Wu was an eye-opener for me, as I understood how deeply the "Attention Merchants" try to rewire our preferences.
Look around you. Whatever object you find is a result of someone having marketed it to you. You bought a toothpaste because Colgate reached out to you through advertisements, you have a paper napkin because the idea of cleanliness and healthy living was put out by some commercial giant who wanted their product to be sold. I’m saying that the habits we have accumulated over the years is a result of someone marketing it to us.
This concept goes beyond the commercial realm of media. I am stuck at solving the dilemma of the news and media organizations. They want to publish unbiased content, but they need a way to sustain their business. So, they lean towards the advertisement model. What they don't realize (or consciously decide) is that the "targeted advertisement model" makes the news a commodity. The content tends to be driven by what the sponsors want.
The bigger question is, are we okay with basing our lives on the interest of the advertisers? Real or fake, biased or unbiased, news is information, whose content is influenced by the economy. It is a systemic issue and I feel that I have poked a hole in it as I am trying to understand it.
My solution, as I go deeper in this would be to create a business model for the news organizations to sustain their business. I prefer subscription over advertisements (the Netflix approach), but will people be willing to pay for the truth? Free content is everywhere, and companies like BuzzFeed have based their revenue model around clickbait. I don’t want that format to be the primary form of news content generation in the 21st century.