Are We Killing Opinionated Content?
January 17, 2013, Author: Neil Hughes
Previously, I have spoken about how print media is dying as specialist magazines fail to find their true voice and just end up appeasing their advertisers, and how PR firms are paving the way for indie websites to tell it like it really is. Yet I have started to think that maybe all forms of media are heading for tough times, and it could actually be our own fault.
Everything has now become a file format: music, films, games, books and magazines, as we all demand our media instantly and to be able to carry the whole damn lot with us on a small device. This is one of the many reasons that HMV have fallen on hard times.As our thirst for instant media has taken an increasing number of victims on the ageing high street, I wonder if we could now be aiming our sights unintentionally on journalism and how we read about the things that we love. The point I am desperately trying to make is that although we all want our publication of choice to tell it like it is, cut the bullshit and give honest informed opinions about the entertainment we are so passionate about, the truth is that we very often contradict ourselves by our actions.
For those people who still buy a daily newspaper, they probably buy one that just strengthens their own political viewpoint. If you are on Twitter the chances are that you are surrounding yourself with people who have similar opinions, humour, interests and ideals as yourself.
For example, my day begins by opening up the app Flipboard’, where I can read about all my favourite things in a glorious visual RSS feed-style personalised magazine containing everything that I love. Today, however, something inside me clicked and made me realise that this could be a problem.
We are surrounding ourselves with everything that we like and avoiding anything that we disagree with, are not interested in or that challenges our views. Does this mean that there is no room for real honest opinion on anything any more? Do publications that offer an honest article or review fear rocking the boat because of the impending angry mob that have traded in pitchforks and flaming torches for something much more powerful, known as the “unfollow” button?
Consumer power is now so strong that everybody is bending over backwards to keep people onside, and this could actually harm creativity and opinion, ultimately leaving us with a mediocre mess.
Maybe Noel Gallagher summed it up perfectly with his comments about the current status of the music industry when he said: “The rules of the game have changed. Albums are made by committee and focus groups. The consumer has become all more powerful now… the consumer is king. So, the consumer gets what he wants, but as I understand it, the consumer didn’t want Jimmy Hendrix, but they got him, and it changed the world. The consumers didn’t want ‘Sgt. Peppers’, but they got it… and they didn’t want the Sex Pistols but they got it. Now there’s an attitude in the music business that like ‘well, let’s keep the consumer happy because that’s what makes the music business go ’round.’”
Sure, these comments were made about the music industry but if you think about it, the exact same points can be made about our beloved world of gaming. If any publication dares say something controversial about one of the big releases they could potentially run the risk of upsetting a fanatical fanbase, which will see their articles voted down and ridiculed.
The biggest fear for many companies is losing their hard-earned online followers. With so much at stake, everyone just ends up sitting on a metaphorical fence to avoid offending readers who could hover their finger over the unfollow or vote down button.
Who is to blame? The answer is each and every one of us that surrounds ourselves with things that we love whilst removing eveything else. This is why you will never see a dislike button on Facebook, because anything that is disliked is removed, deleted or unfollowed before you have even given it a second thought.
This would probably explain why there is an in increasing amount of standard yet insipid forgettable writing, where an 8 out of 10 review score actually says nothing or informs the reader of anything but ensures everyone remains none the wiser. We all demand the truth and yet turn our back when reading something that we don’t agree with.
A world where we all tune into something that simply enforces your existing opinion is not a destination where any of would like to arrive at, but you can rest assured this is one site that will be keeping things honest and letting the chips fall where they may.