The sad state of independent media & other ramblings of the day
Forget the YouTube algorithms. At this point, independent creators and journalists are destroying themselves.
Over the last six months or so, I’ve seen an increase in something that a good friend of mine (shoutout to The Yellow Brick Road - follow him on YouTube) came up with to describe the sorry state that is independent media: TRICKLE-DOWN CONTENT. Now, I can’t say that clickbait or fear porn is anything new — after all, isn’t that how most of us got into this space? Most of us who are active in the independent media community are here because we got tired of the nonsense that is the mainstream media. Are we becoming exactly what we claim to be fighting against?
How are we supposed to get anything accomplished when we operate in a world that deifies content creators into god-like symbols?
I’m convinced that YouTube may actually be one of the worst things to have happened to independent journalism. Yes, the content gets out there on a level it wouldn’t have prior to the YouTube days — but for what? What’s changed? What’s more concerning is that the business model of YouTube requires content creators to play along with the advertiser policies that essentially run the entire platform continues to change with little to zero notice. Creators spend hours trying to work around the pesky algorithms, only to find out that another stipulation has been added, and their business model is once again forced to change.
At what point, however, does a business model become more important than the content that’s being shared? When did it become more important to post a video covering another creator’s take rather than sharing new information on a subject that might be hidden by the algorithm? Lastly - why is it that bombastic, TMZ-worthy content tends to pop up on our YouTube feeds more than ACTUAL information? Censorship is nothing new - there are channels that have been hidden from view for years, now. What is new (at least for me), is this wave of reactionary content from independent creators and journalists that has devolved into a TMZ-like atmosphere. Frankly, some of it makes Jerry Springer look like child’s play. Disclaimer: I’m well aware that I, too, have indulged in my fair share of interacting with content like this. I’m just fed up with it.
What is “trickle-down content?”
I have to hand it to Jordan aka “The Yellow Brick Road” for coining this term—it perfectly encapsulates the state of affairs in independent media today. He has an entire video made about the subject and it’s worth a watch. Many of us are part of this, to be perfectly honest — but self-reflection might be worth it for some of these creators out there. Where do you fit it into the trickle-down content economy? Is there any way out of the trickle-down content loop we’ve unfortunately immersed ourselves in?
Here’s how it typically works:
Larger outlet/journalist (typically one with MSM roots, aspirations, and/or funding) smears, dismisses, or refutes claims made by smaller “independent” journalists or channels. The larger media figure tends to gloss over the details of why they are disputing the other journalist’s claims (if they actually mention the journalist at all) — they just smear the characters who believe in the topic they’re dismissing and call it a day. Most larger MSM-affiliated journalists aren’t willing to cover all of the angles because — well, they’d be out of a job. They can’t possibly get into the details of these issues because their coverage is surface level for a reason. We all know this. Examples: Rachael Maddow, Jake Tapper, Sean Hannity, etc…
Now here is where the trickle-down effect really begins: with the “independent” voices that are prominent streamers on platforms like YouTube. Here’s where people like The Young Turks or Tim Pool come into play. These channels profit off of the OBVIOUS holes in MSM reporting — but they don’t ever delve into the full context of why the mainstream media doesn’t report anything accurately. Let’s use the recent dumpster fire that is The Young Turks as an example. We all know about the dumpster fire that is the war between TYT and Jimmy Dore/Aaron Mate — creators and audiences have taken their sides and will fight to the death for “their guy.” Unfortunately, this is where the trickle-down content gets really, really silly.
The smaller channels are where the reactionary content really starts to flourish. Reactions to reactions of reactions from reactions….it’s enough to drive anyone mad. Worse yet — you walk away from a show with no new information, other than who tweeted at who about more nonsense. You have channels and creators who, although claiming to be otherwise, operate as nothing more than gossip channels that regurgitate the same information shared on larger “independent” channels — usually, if I’m being honest, to just smear the characters of people we already know are disingenuous (like TYT or Tim Pool). It’s important to call out bad actors, yes, but at what point does that become the business model? At what point do we become just like the rest of them?
This “trickle-down content” effect is destroying any semblance of unity that we have left in this world.
I can’t emphasize this enough: it’s important to identify bad actors in the media world — but doing so under the guise of independent journalism is becoming the norm, and that’s what frightens me most of all. Let’s face it — most people see through the illusion that is the mainstream news — it’s one angle — usually reflecting a very specific set of talking points. Audiences genuinely cling to the words of their favorite creators and I can imagine that, at times, it’s easy to forget that as a creator. Having said that, it’s important to understand how desperate people are right now for the truth. Independent news, then, cannot become the very thing it exists to debunk in the first place. I'm the last person to try to police any creator out there — but for the love of God, how many hours can you spend debunking the same people you were debunking a year ago?
When we deify media personalities, we run the risk of dismissing problems that we might otherwise point out. Sure, people make mistakes, but when you notice groups of people willing to come at you and destroy you for simply asking a question of a popular creator, it might be time to step back and ask ourselves, “Why?” Reactionary content is entertaining — but it’s not news. There’s a difference. I’m finding it harder and harder to find news in this trickle-down content world, and I know I’m not alone.
Don’t believe me? Check out any livestream and look at the chat or comments — then tell me what you think. If we can’t look to our audiences to help us improve and grow, who can we look to? It’s okay to be wrong, it’s okay to change your position on an issue after reexamination, and it’s okay to not cover something if you’ve not yet had the chance to. What isn’t okay, however, is the dismissal of those who bring forward constructive criticism in good faith. Why lash out at the people who want to see you improve?
Take care of yourselves, friends — and remember, constructive feedback is always welcome over here. You know I like to ramble and it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to do so. Cheers.