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Andrew MacDougall's analogy is a pleasing one for the mainstream media. But well before the Google Casino corrupted the marketplace, the media committed suicide when it decided their opinion trumped reporting, when they adopted a model of gatekeeping and curating the news to fit their preferred narrative. And now they like to lard their stories with pejorative and biased vocabulary carefully selected to replace simple, direct words. Abortion becomes Health Care. Sex changes become Gender Affirmation. Other viewpoints become fake news/misinformation. Reporting stories resemble sales pitches for one viewpoint. Media that is self aware of bias, that tries to afford a variety of opinions and viewpoints (not just token competing sales pitch columns), and actually tries to offer some balance ... might just have a way forward.

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I agree with the diagnosis but I don’t understand the prescription. What does it mean to step out of the casino? Stop using search engines?

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Brilliant analysis. I only wish that Mr. MacDougall had followed it up with one or more suggestions of how to "step out of the casino".

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Jan 25·edited Jan 25Liked by Line Editor

"If information that is fake and/or cheap to make is allowed to circulate on equal terms with information that is true and expensive to make — content like journalism — then cheap and fake will win the day."

Claims like this are not only generally all the better for proof, but also for intelligibility. Why should we suppose a relationship exists between truth and expense, or for that matter between journalistic content and reliable information? What does it mean to "win the day" in this context, and why should we suppose "cheap and fake" will win it? The hidden major premise here seems to be that the criteria for assessing the truth value of information are its cost and origin, but that's an obvious logical fallacy: neither of those items holds the least relevance for such an assessment.

The ominous phrase "allowed to circulate" suggests information diffusion is or ought to be under somebody's control; but whose, exactly? Someone who thinks 'expensive info' and/or 'journalistic info' can be substituted for 'true info' in a proposition without changing that proposition's meaning, thereby committing the fallacy of logical equivocation? If anyone is going to regulate information flow, for the sake of the health of the information commons let's hope he/she won't come from the ranks of people this confused.

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Good analysis of the problem Andrew but apart from 'stepping out of the casino' which you seem to acknowledge will cause you to go broke (third to last paragraph) but where is your solution suggestion? What about having paid online subscriptions for the news with only a nipet available free? How about Blacklocks Reporters (real news behind a paywall) for a good model? Or, here is a concept, how about reporters investigate and report on an issue instead of publishing opinion pieces on most every issue?

Too many of our media are now lecturers on their point fo view. I will acknowledge that we are finally seeing many articles that are critical of our PM and sort of supportive of PP but that is only recently from the large mainstream outlets - heck even the CBC is critical of JT every so often - so perhaps there is hope yet. My point is that media began selling their souls to left wing woke agendas and took up identity politics and supported various group rights instead of taking a look at what is going on and reporting on it. Now we have media paid for by government grants which should have allowed time for the mainstream media to reform their business model but instead we got more of the same and now hands outstretched again.

Unfortunately, I think mainstream media is almost done as a source of (dare I say) news. I can say I dropped my subscription to a newspaper (Leader Post) years ago when there were so many spelling and gramatical errors not to mention reporting that I knew to be false. The CBC radio 1 lost me over ten years ago with their slanted reporting and a lack of interest in reflecting Canada to Canadians when they switched to the left wing woke agenda.

Like me, you can identify the problem but as someone in the industry Andrew, where are the solutions?

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I agree with Brad below - really like the comparison to a casino, but what is the option ? There is a lack of trust in traditional media that seems very well justified. It is not just the way some stories are covered, it is the complete lack of coverage of stories that should be covered... what to do ?

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founding

So according to MacDougall, all we need is someone to start policing the ‘FAKE’ news so the ‘REAL’ news can prevail over the click bait misinformation pedallers. One wonders, is The Line among the click baiters? Who gets to decide? MacDougall? Trudeau? Pollievre? Maybe the old Twitter censorship team?

Nope. I’ll take my chances on digesting some ‘misinformation’ before I put my trust in MSM, Trudeau, the old Twitter horde or anyone else. Give me access to everything and anything and I’ll decide for myself.

If that means every media conglomerate sinks then so be it.

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That’s great! Maybe you’d like to write a similar analysis on how lotteries have corrupted historic Canadian values like working and saving to succeed?

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Asymmetric living: choose not to play, pay attention to how it feels, and any changes to self.

(no SM accounts, little/no online presence, no Alexa, no "smart home", no cable - as much as possible choosing the inputs, as opposed to having them chosen for me.)

Anyone tried it?

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X's community notes are only getting better and they will continue to improve.

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Put all content behind a paywall. It's hard to understand why newspapers didn't do so at the start of the internet era. They gave it away for free, and we became accustomed to getting online news for free.

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I don't think the conspiratorial spin contributes usefully to understanding and fixing the problem. The news media was always funded by advertising: news content (and entertainment too) was used to attract customers to consume the advertising. The big tech companies figured out a way to provide that advertising function more cheaply and more effectively with targeted markets. That's it. It turns out that news doesn't attract many customers for advertisers per unit cost compare to other content. More lurid stuff seems to sell better, though. No surprise there: in the news industry, there was always a divide between serious broadsheets and trashy tabloids. In TV, highbrow dramas don't deliver the same return as trashy reality TV, and they've faced the same viewership/advertiser problem.

What the news industry has to grapple with is that the lucrative advertising market they enjoyed for decades is gone. It's not coming back. There's still a market for news - how are they going to make money delivering it? The hard truth is that it probably is never going to provide the income stream that it used to.

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I get the overall idea of the article. But I find that all the issues identified here all point to external factors - like how the people consume or create content. Somehow, there is little to no introspection or acknowledgement of how the mainstream media lost their way in the first place.

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Andrew, you describe the issue and the problem very eloquently. However, you do not tell us, the individuals, what we can do to make things better. Don’t tell me I’m going to die in a month without telling me what I can do to keep living.

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You can't get out of the casino easily. It's taken over the whole city, it's everywhere. You're going to have to move so far away it'll be costly, and only the richest will be able to afford it. And when your edifice burns down (WMDs, and other news failures) your credibility dies and the customers will flock back to the casino. UNLESS: you are honest about it and show real remorse, even punishment for the infraction. Are you prepared to do that?

And if you can't be cost competitive, you better be content competitive. The Tucker Carlson is a good point. He's over the top, but I LIKE him because he asks questions no one else is asking. Do you dare to that? Will you provide that sort of value?

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“We set the rules in the house of democracy. Or at least, we used to. We’d better reclaim that right before it’s lost for good.”

This concept is so foreign to people these days in a world of myths about The Free Market. Markets always have rules. The rules are either set by a democratically accountable government, or by powerful interests. If we want a country where bad journalism and rage bait don’t dominate, we have to create it.

1. Make the advertising platforms legally liable for misleading, false, dangerous, or defamatory content. Newspapers aren’t allowed to publish false advertising or defame people, why is Google allowed to do that? We already have laws in place to deal with this; just extend those to online advertisers.

2. Break off the online ad brokers from the tech giants. Google and Facebook own the ad market and skim off the ad revenue from content creators. Make that market free again. Get the money to creators, not middlemen.

3. Ban personalized targeted advertising. We don’t need powerful tech firms tracking all our movements. The world worked just fine with context based advertising. Take away the incentive for privacy violations. Prioritize the quality of content, not the fleeting click through rates.

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