by WILL FOLKS || Over the last few months, it’s become more nauseating than normal to read the mainstream media. Which is saying a lot. In addition to its ever-present anti-liberty, anti-free market bias – which the current crisis has only compounded – America’s Fourth Estate has inexplicably attempted to appropriate unto itself the mantle of “hero” in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In the age of COVID, the prevailing journalistic self-assessment holds that being gifted in the art of groundless fear-mongering and establishment-enabling qualifies you for some sort of medal … which in turn obligates you to remind everyone incessantly of your principled virtue and indispensability to our society.
“Where would we be without the media?”
Better off … that’s where. Or at the very least, better informed.
The preening, sanctimonious self-aggrandizement of the legacy press – accompanied by more and more desperate appeals to cash-strapped readers to subscribe (or donate) in support of “vital” and “essential” journalistic work – is embarrassing.
Actually it is worse than that … it is sad. Weak. Pathetic.
It also exploits a national crisis in the name of glorified naval-gazing … hijacking space that could have provided useful information to the public and replacing it with hyperbolic bloviation about how all of us ought to “empower” the regurgitative work of intellectually incurious institutional mouthpieces.
Seriously: Since when did mindlessly copying and pasting the pronouncements of clueless politicians and braindead bureaucrats become a noble and praiseworthy endeavor? When did speculating ignorantly and stoking division needlessly become an admirable pursuit? And when did shamelessly shilling for special interests at a time when the “least of these” are facing unprecedented hardships become part of the code of journalistic code of ethics?
I must have missed that memo …
Oh … and when did panhandling readers to pad the pockets of ethically bankrupt corporate executives qualify as “supporting journalism?”
Because I definitely missed that memo.
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Sadly, this is most of the coverage we see right now … mindless repetition. Formatted, pre-programmed pablum. All of it accompanied by a shrill, self-indulgent plea for your money … at a time when your money is being stretched thinner than ever before (in no small part because the press isn’t holding government and other institutions accountable for their repetitive failures).
The only redeeming aspect of mainstream media coverage these days is this: Internet pages have become so plastered with advertisements it is getting harder for readers to locate the articles.
With any luck maybe you won’t find them …
This news outlet (obviously) views things a bit differently. And hopefully that difference has manifested itself both with respect to our COVID coverage and the way we have run our business throughout this crisis.
For starters, not once have we attempted to leverage the coronavirus pandemic to sell subscriptions or court donations to our news outlet. Not once. And while I’m incredibly proud of the work news director Mandy Matney and I have done in covering this issue over the past few months, I haven’t feel the need leverage it … or to bombard readers with repetitive self-congratulation.
Our work speaks for itself.
Also, when we decided to make hundreds of coronavirus-related articles available to our readers free of charge, we didn’t plaster disclaimers all over these stories heralding our benevolence (while once again begging for subscriptions or donations) … we just flipped the switch.
Seriously, while other news outlets bragged about it, we just did it.
One of our advertisers was forced to shutdown for several weeks during the crisis, so we cut them a break. A few of our subscribers have reached out describing hardships, so we cut them a break, too.
Meanwhile, upon discovering South Carolina taxpayers were shelling out millions of dollars for coronavirus-related advertising from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), we reached out to the agency and offered to run these advertisements for free – something we are still doing.
Furthermore, we challenged other media outlets across the state to follow our lead … arguing taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize something like that at a time like this.
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Did these outlets take us up on that challenge? Who knows … but we have not taken a dime of money to run these public service announcements.
Bottom line? I am trying to do things the right way.
Over the last few years, FITSNews has evolved from a part-time political blog into a full-fledged news outlet. Regular readers will no doubt notice our articles have gotten longer. More diverse. More detailed. Better cited. More thoughtful. More contextual. All of this is being taken to a new level thanks to Mandy coming on board, too.
Unlike a lot of other outlets, we provide links to the studies we cite, the reports we reference and the articles to which we allude – allowing our readers to see the materials we are using in crafting our coverage.
And when rival reporters break news, we provide links to their coverage as well as their social media profiles so you can not only read what they wrote – but also learn more about them and the issues they are covering (even when they fail to return the courtesy).
Most importantly, we have instituted an open microphone policy that actively solicits divergent perspectives – as well as pointed criticism of our coverage.
Make no mistake: I still have strong views – and I am not at all shy when it comes to expressing them. But I have come to see my role as the host of a larger, broader conversation – one in which my beliefs need to be constantly challenged and refined the same way FITSNews seeks to challenge and refine the beliefs of those who lead the Palmetto State.
The tangible results of this “marketplace of ideas” approach have been amazing. Prior to the pandemic spiking our traffic, from January 1, 2020 to March 15, 2020 we had witnessed a 104.4 percent surge in users and a 57.5 percent increase in page views compared to the same period from 2019.
And we are just getting warmed up …
While a lot of outlets are losing readers, hemorrhaging revenue and shedding staff, we are in growth mode. On multiple fronts.
And I plan on continuing that growth across all of those fronts … and doing it the right way.
So thanks to all our readers, subscribers, advertisers and supporters. On behalf of FITSNews, I appreciate all you do for this endeavor. Thanks for letting me share this message. I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading.
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