How to Kill Fox News

This is something I've been thinking about for some time, but it finally crystallized just now while reading What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. The book is about new business models versus the old. Openness vs. closed environments. Google vs. the world. Jarvis makes the point that the old way of corporations, in which they create something where "Companies own customers, control distribution, make exclusive deals, lock out competitors, [and] keep trade secrets," is no longer how to succeed, because the Internet has destroyed that paradigm. The Internet has empowered consumers. The blogosphere can alternately destroy or create companies based on what we say, and how the crowd gathers around a certain topic. To this end, we as consumers must take control over the power we wield, and we must take responsibility to drive out individuals, companies or products that we deem to be destructive to what we want for the future.

Obviously, and most detrimental to this undertaking, knowledge is power. Not just knowledge of the situation and subjects, but knowledge of those running counter to us, and how they may use misinformation or distractions to lead us to give them what they want, and, we must also have full knowledge about how our actions truly effect the situation. In many cases, gathering a group around an issue will effect that issue in direct relation to the spirit of the gathering (ie. support leads to positive effects, and opposition will lead to negative effects for the target.) But, the key that people forget with this line of thinking is that those effects are tied directly to the culture of payment in question. For example, if a group gathers around the recent issue with Toyota car safety, that group can directly impact Toyota because ultimately we, as consumers, decide whether or not to buy a Toyota. However, in the case of media, all groups lead to a positive effect for the target, except for a group of boycotters.

This connects me to the Limbaugh Corollary (alternately the Howard Stern Corollary, or Fox News Corollary.) When it comes to media, all attention, good or bad, is ultimately good for the target. If you love Rush Limbaugh, aside from being willfully ignorant on issues, you will listen to him and you will tell others to listen, leading to better ratings and more advertising revenue for Rush. However, the problem arises in that most people who hate Limbaugh will listen because they "want to know what he's going to say," thus making his comments newsworthy to those who don't agree with him, their friends, and on until reputable news sources are even guilty of spreading links to content that is better off ignored.

I understand that even writing this blog connects me to this vicious circle, but only in the hopes that I may convince more like-minded people to follow my path. Because in the end, you cannot fight misinformation with the truth when the misinformation is being promulgated by everyone. If you want to go to every supporter of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, you'll have far more luck. Because the only thing that will kill Fox News and Limbaugh is if we all ignore them, and urge other influential sources to do the same. We all have to realize that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are not pushing content that they actually believe in, they are simply pushing content that they know will sell. Whether or not Limbaugh or Hannity believe the bile that they spew forth is irrelevant. All that matters to them is growing their audience, and if you are part of their audience, you are part of the problem, in my opinion.

As Jeff Jarvis sums up so well: If I link to a story, "I'm recommending that you watch it. Even if I criticize the show, I'm saying there's something worth seeing and discussing." There is nothing worth seeing or discussing with partisan so-called "news", this includes MSNBC just as much as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. But, I'm willing to bet if you tracked the stories on both networks, MSNBC runs stories on Fox News much more often than Fox covers what's said on MSNBC. And, in the end, all that does is bring more of the conversation towards Fox News.

Probably the best option would be to enact laws similar to England, where such stations wouldn't legally be able to call themselves "news" organizations, but rather "entertainment" (one reason why BBC is one of the best true "news" organizations in the world,) but I have no faith in that ever coming to pass, because the people would never support government intervention into media like that. So, that leaves the work to us, and it's not really difficult work. All you have to do is ignore it, don't support it, and don't support any supposed "news" outlet that does.