The Economics of News and Media

We are taught in school that the concept of economics is run by demand and supply. From our first econ 101 class, we are told the concept of buying and selling are the core actions taken place when running an economy. Whether it’s the consumer, producer, or the government, everyone plays a role in this process. But what if we were to say that the news we watch or the social media posts/articles we read are manipulated by the same mechanism?

political stances of various news platforms(credit: allslidesnow)

Weirdly enough, we are also taught in school that newspaper articles are balanced, not biased. But most of us fail to take into consideration that the news we read is influenced by political narratives that individual networks selectively pursue. Not just that, subjectivity has reached its all-time high as individuals decide to read monolithic perspectives of international issues to stay firm with their prerequisite beliefs of society. This has a lot to do with confirmation bias, which most of society is unfortunately subjected to. To elucidate this, left-winged news and the right-leaning media are increasing in polarity day by day. But why?

It seems as if today, anyone with a different perspective for any populist belief is either ostracized from society or considered foolish. That is because most of us are not aware of the variety of perspectives present in the modern world. Socialism and capitalism. Liberalism and conservativism. libertarianism and authoritarianism. The list of -isms goes on. But what does that have to do with demand and supply? Let’s take some examples…

The current generation z and millennials have begun to resonate with the mainstream stance of leftist politics. We have more high school and college students advocating for socialism, pro-choice, de-facto border agreements, hazardous race theory in decision making, and an evergrowing list of democratic policies. What was initially popularised by politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is now what every 18 years old is subjected to believe. Even though there’s a lot to argue against these liberal stances, others with conservative/ republican viewpoints are shunned away through diatribe and lack of discourse. And who do we have to blame for this? Mainstream media for one…

CNN journalist reports on portland riots. Claims to be “mostly peaceful” protesting, ironically with a massive fire burning behind him.

It is hard to blame people for adopting such monochrome political stands when the only exposure to the outside world is their twitter feed and CNN’s biased reporting. But when it comes to the idea of demand and supply, a lot of reporting is influenced by this economic idea that we thought was just applied to firms and enterprises. See, as I mentioned before, the younger generation fantasizes about the world through the impossible utopia of the left. Therefore, mainstream media will cater to that narrative to get higher ratings, viewers, and more. There is a demand for a perspective, and hence the supply is created, tailored to this. In contrast, we should ask ourselves if REAL news is even being written? Why are facts being considered subjective? And more importantly, why are we so quick to believe anything we read online without any form of evidence to support a claim made on the internet?

But let’s talk in terms of how the news industry has turned itself into a stock market of politically tied perspectives to invest in. We have seen companies taking a “stand” for social issues by changing their product towards raising awareness for these causes. But it can be argued that most companies do it for monetary gain at the end of the day. Sure, companies change their logos, slogans, product color, or type to advocate for spreading cognizance, but at the same time exploit low-income workers in third world countries to make the same product. it’s not just selective empathy that is the issue here, but also the cognitive dissonance present in such companies towards their selling strategies. However, companies with such a reputation surely know what they’re doing? That’s because they do. It is you, the reader, the consumer, who is not aware of the hypocrisy that is played by these firms. In avarice and megalomania being the unfortunate sin companies fall victim to, many top firms are mainly driven by the ideals of capitalism rather than social justice. They give you what you want to buy, in exchange for your money. But when this translates over to news and media, the same is present. They show you want to see in exchange for your money. It’s ironic when you think about it: people supporting socialism but falling prey towards the biased and capitalist news that they watch. But capitalism is inevitable and is something that we cannot escape unless we are aware of its existence.

So who are we to blame? Ourselves? the news networks? the government? As much as people have the habit of blaming everything on the government, in this case, we can only blame 2 people. One is the news networks. Their sole duty is to present balanced news with no political bias whatsoever. But they seem to evade this moral principle due to the money they could potentially make with running their lucrative and skewed perspectives. It is then we should blame ourselves. Those who motivate the news by giving them the ratings they need to continue making distorted news. Stop it. Know first, then reason later. Only then will the media ever change. Instead, have a conversation. A debate. A conversation to compete with your beliefs with others. To compete with your views on modern issues with others. The truth usually comes out in such instances. Or at least an objective common ground you can agree upon.

Anyways, you are probably asking yourselves at this point, “ what can I trust at this point?” Well, certainly not opinionated media and news with a horrible history of being politically biased, that’s for sure. Center-based new outlets like Reuters is a start. But is you ask me, the only person you can trust is yourself. In a world full of fake news, make sure to reason first without consuming anything blindly like a sheep. Wait for facts and evidence to come out and stop making baseless assumptions. And become more aware. You cannot take a stance on something you know less than 10% about. Know the full story, otherwise do not bother on pursuing a perspective just for the recognition and self-validation. So the next time you plan to tweet something for clout and attention, realize that you may be doing more harm than good.

Media is one thing, rejection of reality is another. — Chuck Todd( American Journalist)

A different perspective of the normalized.