Late in 2018, we heard a story about the impending doom of The Weekly Standard magazine. Its editor told the staff that its future was uncertain. The owner, Clarity Media Group, had declined to approve the magazine’s 2019 budget. In a statement, Clarity Media said it was “exploring a number of possibilities regarding the future of The Weekly Standard,” blaming “the evolving business landscape,” according to The New York Times.
Business conditions do play a role, but the more important reason is editorial strategy. Conformist strategy is killing left-leaning digital-native publications and The Weekly Standard, which is a “neo-conservative” magazine, meaning it doesn’t shy away from slamming Republicans and President Donald Trump. Vanity Fair writes that these “companies, which once heralded the dawn of a new media age—replete with massive valuations, large fund-raising hauls, and millennial sex appeal—now appeared to exhibit some traits of the brands that they once attempted to disrupt.”
Vice, Vox, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and other left-wing digital outlets – and The Weekly Standard –are struggling in an increasingly competitive marketplace because they have aligned themselves with the strategy and agenda of the “legacy” media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Brietbart’s Editor-at-Large, John Nolte, says, “The media world — meaning, all of it: digital, television, and print — is buried under left-wing progressives snarking at Trump, attacking the political right as backwards racists, and pursing socialism in the name of social justice. This social and ideological conformity, this cult-like adherence to the same talking points, has not only made all of these sites exactly alike, they have also become predictable and, by extension, uninteresting.”
Readers already are flooded with this kind of stories, so ifanti-Trump rant is what the digital publications focus on, why would readers bother to visit them or pay for them?
These organizations indulge in groupthink and they exist in “echo chambers.” Anti-Trump rhetoric seems their bread and butter.
These publications don’t allow diversity of thought – they never question the liberal agenda. Nolte says these publications don’t see beyond their “race to the left” or dare to “risk the social blacklisting that comes questioning the left-wing thought plantation.”
They shout down viewpoints they disagree with. They reject diversity of thought.
Finally, these publications – both legacy and left-leaning digital – quote thin sources; for instance, “people familiar with” something. There exists only a thin line between the credible and the incredible when such sources are quoted.
“These media companies are trapped in a dull, gray box of their own making, one where everything they publish and say is first run through the same exhausted ideological strainer,” says Nolte.
“And once everyone knows what you are going to say about everything, even those who agree with you are going to stop clicking,” Nolte says, referring to the liberal digital outlets.
If digital media outlets are to thrive, they must reinvent themselves by carrying diverse opinion, and publications like The Weekly Standard should stick to their “home base.”
Image credit: New York Times