Today marks a new era at Paste Magazine. We debut several new sections, including this one: Media. It’s a big catchall, but we will narrow the focus and expand it when necessary. This is an exciting time for any media outlet, especially a new venture that’s able to build off a well-established brand like Paste. There will be two central focuses to this section:
1. We Will Watch the Watchers
I said it in my interview with our Editor-in-Chief and I will say it again here: the single most important issue in the age of Trump is how the media reports on his administration. Given that he is the most unpopular incoming president in recent times, public opinion will be vital to getting legislation through Congress. Reliable sources will now either get their information downstream from Trumplandia, or will be simply replaced in favor of someone more loyal. It will be an extreme challenge not only because President-elect Trump is a serial liar, but because some media types are already weighing their access versus their options if that access gets cut off.
This is a new age for journalism, and some traditional outlets are revealing themselves to be woefully unequipped for the task at hand after years of producing infotainment (not quite information, but not quite entertainment either). Fake news is nothing new; it was just weaponized against us by Russia. “Fake news” helped drive us into Iraq in 2003, downplayed the true horrors of Vietnam, told us that cigarettes were good for us, etc… we just never called it that because the viewpoint came from reputable institutions. Now, the importance of the story has surpassed the relevance of the institution. That creates a meritocracy, and in some ways, can make it easier to highlight who is doing well and who is doing poorly in the fog of the information war.
2. Culture is Everything
Culture is what humanity does and values. Politics are how we attempt to legislate it, but it is largely expressed through art – the most common forms being music, TV, and movies, all of which have become central to the American economy. Paste is a perfect example, as it has been in business for over a decade covering music and all other forms of entertainment. We will not step on the other section’s toes as to the who, what, where, and how of things. Our angles will predominantly attack the story from the “why” perspective. We will editorialize.
These truly are revolutionary times. Humanity is constructing a digital universe which commands as much or more of our time as the physical world. Centuries of tradition have been upended seemingly overnight, and much of the mainstream media* is unsure of how to cover these changes.
*I’d like to take a quick moment to identify the “mainstream media.” The term is grossly generalized to the point where it means whatever you want it to mean. It’s simple: Six conglomerates own 90% of our media. THAT is mainstream. Paste is not, and we will use that to our advantage.
I, the Editor will be responsible for everything that goes up on these pages, so you, the reader, deserve to know where my head is at, because we all have our own bias. I went to a prep high school and a public university. I have gone from part-time political freelance writer at Paste to full-time Editor of Media, Business, and Politics. I have been writing part time as long as I can remember, and the bulk of my professional experience is in sales, or as I came to call it: capitalism’s foot soldiers.
I recoil at the notion that a “down the middle” exists in journalism, and reject the simplicity of the right-left paradigm. It’s a relic left over from the French Revolution, when left indicated that you opposed the monarchy and right meant that you supported it. Now, your spot on the invisible range of American democracy can probably be defined as to whether you like guns or not.
Journalism is inherently biased because humans are inherently biased, and journalism is a creation of humanity. The truth does not belong to the amorphous “middle,” and every person can only see the world through the eyes they were given. I will publish stories from any viewpoint so long as the argument is well-written, well-reasoned, and supported by verifiable evidence. I will seek out pieces that push the boundaries of our preconceptions. We have all become too closeted in our own beliefs. It’s time we started seeking out reasonable people who disagree with us. Far too much of the mainstream media acts as if they are Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. We are not demigods, just flawed mortals doing our best.
I plan to empower our excellent stable of writers, which includes our section’s assistant editor, Erika Ramirez. She brings instant credibility as founder of ILY Magazine…or as a former senior editor at Billboard…or through her decade of experience freelancing with a litany of cultural institutions like MTV, Vogue, and Rolling Stone…you get the point. We’re stacked with talent.
We will take chances. We will make mistakes. We will apologize when we are wrong. We will not when we can provide evidence that we are right. We will listen to you, the reader, but will not simply follow orders. If you want content to confirm your biases, ask your relatives on Facebook. We are here to hold the powerful accountable, explore the intersection of culture and commerce, and cover the media’s coverage of the torrent of changes in the coming months, let alone years.
Mainstream establishments have spent the past few decades delegitimizing themselves with broadcasts designed to get you to watch, not learn. The result? A reality TV star just won the presidency by running a campaign against Washington, D.C., and the “mainstream media.” There is a core truth to the nonsense constantly emanating from Donald Trump: In many respects, the Fourth Estate has turned from an unofficial branch of government into an arm of the government. D.C. is crooked. The system is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media (six conglomerates) refused to cover the obvious corruption until Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street protesters forced it out into the open.
With a progressive President promising Hope and Change one would expect…well…hope and change. Instead, Barack Obama used the Espionage Act against more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. The digital age has plenty to do with that fact, but no one will ever characterize his administration as one friendly to journalists. Between government hostility and general mismanagement, there has never been this much distrust of the mainstream media. This is a major opportunity for alternative outlets, and we will establish Paste as a reliable port in a sea of confusion.