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Rupert Murdoch lost nearly his entire investment in MySpace the other day when he sold the failing social network to musician and actor Justin Timberlake and an ad agency he backs for some US$30 million. This was a good deal less than the US$500 million-plus Murdoch paid for it.
Why did Murdoch make such a bad investment? Because he hoped to use the network as a vehicle into which he could place and disseminate news. He wanted to make MySpace into a mechanism to deliver current-events content. When it didn’t work out – and he must have known that fairly soon – he obviously lost interest. And as his interest waned, so did MySpace.
This speaks to Murdoch’s desperation – and mainstream media’s generally. In a digital world, he is willing to burn US$500 million simply to confirm that a social network is not a news delivery system. I could have told him that for a much lower fee.
This also shows us the importance of news to the powers-that-be. The Anglosphere elites – for whom Murdoch evidently and obviously works – are determined (thus far without much success) to find a way to protect their failing information franchise.
Nothing in the past 300 years or so, while the elites have advanced their one-world-order, has been so devastating to their plans as the Internet and the rise of the alternative media driven Internet Reformation. It has poisoned the chalice and befouled the well; it has unbalanced the clarity of the concoction and clouded it with truth. A bitter brew … for them!
Western power elites will do ANYTHING to reclaim their news franchise. When one looks at 20th century media development one is struck by its massive size and strategic composition. Every part of Western 20th century media worked seamlessly together. The whole idea was to create an increasingly militarized society that would accept global government as part of the natural order of things.
Hollywood delivered messages of violence and fear; the magazines and newspapers rehashed the same sorts of information and television – that unique, talking box – broadcast alarm and resolution-of-the same 24-hours a day.
There was no escape from it. If the world was not in death throes, that’s only because the wise men clustered at the top of the West’s painstakingly created authoritarian systems were saving the world on a real-time basis.
It is news dissemination that the power elite craves. Everything else is just a backdrop. The entertainment, the talk shows, the game shows, these were all merely the wrapper supporting the main act. Everything in Western media in the 20th century led up to the News Program. And the talking heads providing the "news" were glorified as great intellects worthy of the most arduous approbation.
Walter Cronkite, a febrile and shallow socialist, was the "most trusted man in news." Dan Rather, a compulsive self-aggrandizer, was a countrified, attack-dog. These individuals did nothing but read the news; but they were revered. Today, things have changed. Mainstream news … very little. As a delivery mechanism of mind control it is failing. In fact, every part of the intricate system is failing.
In order to build a new world order, people must be either frightened or enticed into cooperating. It is a great deal easier to scare people than to bribe them, less costly too. But when the delivery mechanism fails, when people begin to tune it out as they have in the 21st century, then the message is muddled and gradually grows more insignificant.
Murdoch’s properties are supposed to provide the conservative half of a worldwide Hegelian dialectic. He’s been funded by Western elites to provide this vision because if one is to move society toward global governance, a conversation is necessary. Thesis, antithesis … synthesis. Murdoch provides the antithesis, with relish.
As a major facilitator of the one-world conspiracy, Murdoch is tasked with taming the Internet Reformation. It must be brought under control and the Internet made to work on behalf of a larger world order.
One can watch him writhe, these days. We’ve compared him to Hamlet, especially a few years ago when he really seemed at a loss and began to lash out while mumbling to himself. He bought MySpace and ruined it like a petulant child when it didn’t perform as planned. When he began MySpace had nearly 75 million users. It now has less than 35 million.
He’s onto the next gambit – increasingly known in the mainstream media as "fail walls." These pay walls encircle Internet content like moats around castles. Instead of seeing articles for free, readers are enticed with an occasional news story and then urged to sign up and pay for access to fuller content.
The New York Times tried this a few years ago and saw its on-line circulation plunge; it is trying again now with a different model known as "freemium" – a mix of free and paid content which is said to be working marginally better.
Murdoch, however, is the most active participant in this futile circus. He’s placed paywalls around his properties in Britain, The Times and Sunday Times, in the US with such publications as The Wall Street Journal and is now transplanting the strategy to his Australian publications. The fairly thick walls around his UK publications have indeed kept casual browsers out. Reports claim that the UK Times has blocked 20 million viewers and replaced them with 79,000 digital subscribers.
This is heralded as a "success" in the brave new world of the Internet era. Meanwhile, circulation figures from ABC show that The Times and Sunday Times print sales fell 14.8% and 9.5% year-on-year. The UK Guardian News & Media Group have pursued a non-paywall approach and reportedly generated a 50 per cent increase in digital advertising revenue in the first six months of the financial year. Free content – open access – works better than pay walls.
Murdoch has also started a dedicated, online newspaper known as The Daily. It is delivered through Apple aps and people pay for it. But the problem is no different; the information being delivered hasn’t changed, only the delivery system. Murdoch keeps tinkering with the hardware when it’s the software that is the problem.
It could be that the open-access model is the one that works the best. It certainly makes the most sense. The 20th century, as we’ve written before, was a time of artificial news scarcity. The 21st century is one of news plenty. In such a brave new world, how can one successfully charge for content? Better to give it away and try to surround it with ads or, in the case of the Daily Bell, operate a non-profit, advertising free site and rely on the generotisty of readers to help make the message grow.
But the trouble for the mainstream press is that the information has to be compelling in order to compete with the alternative media. DB reports a kind of truth; the mainstream media promotes fear and globalism.
In an environment where there is a plethora of product, the only distinguishing factor is quality. Power-elite media does not "do" quality very well. That is not why it exists. This is another problem Murdoch has when it comes to trying to charge for product. His news and information are a tool designed to advance the larger conversation and move it in the direction of international governance. He is not a free agent in this regard.
In order to compete with the Internet’s alternative media, Murdoch’s media has changed its tone. It is much more strident than in the past about "conservative" issues. This is because the free-market thinking that’s driving the Internet Reformation is pulling the dialogue in a libertarian direction. Murdoch compensates with conservative viewpoints but gradually the fulcrum of the conversation is shifting.
In the 21st century, the larger social conversation is gradually repolarizing itself around what is natural and normal. The more people learn, the less convincing his conservative editorial thrust becomes; and the more strident authoritarian voices like Bill O’Relly’s become. People, once they understand their own manipulation, trend toward the libertarian point of view, which is why in the US, libertarian Texas Congressman Ron Paul is increasingly popular.
In order to accommodate the realigned conversation, Murdoch is forced to go along with it. This accounts for the rise of people like Glenn Beck. There is no way that Beck’s increasingly libertarian viewpoints would have been tolerated in the 20th century – and evidently not in the 21st century either.
Obviously, the Glenn Beck experiment proved too arduous for Murdoch’s Fox as Beck has been released and is now starting his own TV channel. It may be that Beck proves more successful on his own than with Fox. He claims to have retained his soul. This is another problem that Murdoch’s media has – it doesn’t appear to have much of a soul.
As the conversation shifts, Murdoch has to shift with it. But in order to accommodate the changing conversation he begins to BECOME exactly what his elite backers hoped to eradicate. To retain credibility he must present a version free-market thinking; yet this is anathema to his sponsors who wish only to promote covert and overt globalism. It is a conundrum.
This puzzle shall remain with the elites. The Internet Reformation, in fact, is a process not an episode. The trends that the Internet has produced are only going to get more powerful. As with the Gutenberg Press, the Internet’s effects will not easily be tamed. The results of the Gutenberg Press – the Renaissance, Reformation, etc. – reverberated long after its inception. The changes began to occur with rapidity some 100 years its invention. The changes spawned by the Internet began after about 20 years.
From this we can see, mathematically speaking, that the ratio between the Internet and the Press is perhaps one-to-five. It took the elites about 350- 400 years to control the Press and to begin to monopolize its output. Thus, it may take the elites about 50-75 years to control the Internet.
But there is something else to consider. Assume for the sake argument that the mainstream media historical timeline is an accurate one (which we no longer do, necessarily) there can be no doubt things have speeded up. There was a 25,000 year gap between cave paintings and incised tablets. There was perhaps a 10,000 year gap between tablets and papyrus. There was perhaps a 5,000 year gap between papyrus and the printing press. There was a 500 year gap between the invention of the press and the advent of the Internet.
It may be that just about the time the elites have managed to fully control the Internet – in say 50 years – a NEW technology will come along and make life difficult all over again. The competition between the elites and the middle class was fully joined with the advent of the Gutenberg Press. This marked a fundamental shift in human history from what we can tell, defining history as a race between technology and elite mind control. The confrontation has only sharpened in the Internet era.
We are in the early stages of a great Internet-inspired Reformation. The Gutenberg-inspired Reformation gave rise to fundamental shifts in society 500 years ago and redefined the relationship between peasantry and the elites of the day. It also kicked off a series of low-level, pan-European wars.
If one studies the Gutenberg Press and its impacts, one can see plenty of parallels between what is occurring now and what occurred then. At the time, the elites struggled to advance their control and maintain what they had already achieved. But it seems to me they lost control, at least temporarily, and now they are losing control again. For those in tune with what is happening, the 21st century may eventually prove a fine time to be alive and working.
At some point, the confluence of modern free-market thinking may force the powers-that-be to take a step back. Murdoch’s struggles are not made up. One only has to look at them over the past ten years to see a concretization of the theoretical proposals we’ve presented her at DB.
These issues are real. They may have great ramifications as the Internet Reformation rolls on, affecting everything from investments to lifestyle choices. In fact, I’d argue the impact is already a powerful one, even though people may not realize just what is occurring. Murdoch believes that he can regain control of the message with social networks, paywalls and dedicated content. He will likely go to his deathbed (he is not a young man) believing this. He and his backers and handlers may be wrong.
Anthony Wile is an author, columnist, media commentator and entrepreneur focused on developing projects that promote the general advancement of free-market thinking concepts. He is the chief editor of the popular free-market oriented news site, TheDailyBell.com. Mr. Wile is the Executive Director of The Foundation for the Advancement of Free-Market Thinking — a non-profit Liechtenstein-based foundation. His most popular book, High Alert, is now in its third edition and available in several languages. Other notable books written by Mr. Wile include The Liberation of Flockhead (2002) and The Value of Gold (2002).