Saturday, November 2, 2019

In Support of Paid Political Advertising

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey suffers from an anti-capitalist mentality. I know that sounds odd, considering, but smart as he is, he evidently lacks an understanding of economics as human action.

Instead of paying for political advertising, which is obvious, political campaigns will only pay people like me to write “personal opinions.” As a Meier-Briggs ENTJ, I can argue any side with aplomb and verve. Some issues have moral meaning for me and I would take or reject work on that basis, but one of the definitions of a “hack” is a writer who works for pay without regard for personal or professional standards; and we never have lacked them. Also never in short supply were writers using pen names. Twenty years ago, long before Mitt Romney was Pierre Delecto,  people on message boards used fake names to agree with their own opinions. 

Our federal republic owes its existence at least in part if not largely to three men who wrote under one name: Hamilton, Madison, and Jay appearing in the newspapers as “Publius.” 

I do not have a Twitter account. However, I am on Facebook, but only because of commitments requested by employers. Not so much a cyberphobe as a user of other online platforms, I have this blog, of course. My first BBS username goes back to 1984. A few years later, I served as the business news and issues manager of the Political Forum BBS sponsored by East Lansing state representative and state senator William A. Sederburg (Wikipedia here). (You can find an InfoWorld article from November 19, 1984, page 38, archived on Google Books. Start here and use the Search box.)

At that time, I was on several other networks and started posting GRID News. It was my gateway to the news room in the Michigan Capitol Building. Some of that is archived under the Computer Underground Digest. 

I forget which cyberpunk science fiction book it was in, probably one of William Gibson’s, but a European character sighs that Americans believe that history started after they were born. The other day at work, one of the scientists was complaining to an engineer that newspapers are biased; factual reporting is a thing of the past. I pointed out that newspapers were always opinionated. I explained that Joseph Pulitzer in St. Louis and William Randolph Hearst in San Francisco and New York made their fortunes from any kind of fake news story to sell papers. I said that after Pulitzer died, his estate bequeathed a large grant to the Columbia School of Journalism which began giving out awards for honest reporting. 

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1950s and 60s, we accepted the morning Plain Dealer as a Republican newspaper and the evening Cleveland Press as a Democrat newspaper. We always took the PD, but subscribed to the Press if we liked the paper boy. Cleveland was not unique. You can find many newspapers called Democrat and Republican but even those called Tribune, Globe, World, Telegraph, and Guardian were (and are) partisan. 


1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if I romanticize the past or if I lived in a Democrat bubble, but it seemed like when people disagreed they still generally accepted the same news sources as authoritative and accepted that most people are not evil.

    In my town the centrist paper (WI State Journal) came in the morning and the more liberal paper (Cap City Times) came in the evening. I think my family got both at one point and Cap Times only at another point. I'm not sure why. I don't remember people being fired up about politics. It seemed like the papers would pick different stories to run, but I never heard someone reject a story because it came from the wrong paper.


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