Method Research, Part Five: How Yes, Inc. destroyed journalism.

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II

The late nineties and early Aughts was devastating for journalism. So many publications were folding, and some of them folded as I was writing articles for them. Canadian tech magazine Shift was one, and it folded one month before my article for them was slated to appear, and I found out about it while reading Romenesko.

I had it published in another magazine, but not every article could be re-housed. The biggest and most complex of these was an article I wrote for Vent, that was supposed to be a cover story, but that magazine folded one issue away from the one I was slated to appear.

It was a shame. It was an article about the most interesting places to work and how to get a job there. I interviewed someone in Human Resources and someone who was hired six months or less. I enjoyed writing it. Even though I was still paid in full, I was devastated that all the work went down the drain.

But not exactly.

I was doing my Method Research, and in that I still had not wasted my time. That the magazine folded was important for my research. It was a newsstand magazine that was well done. It targeted the right demographic, and did all the right things, but so did Shift.

That demo just wasn’t interested in print publications — but they weren’t flocking to the online versions, either. When those magazines folded, their online presence vanished with them.

It was an interesting void.

But the Vent article was very instructive. There was one human resources manager I interviewed for USA Today, and she was sharp as a whip, and told me something that made me think why journalism was tanking.

Because you didn’t have enough people like her in it.

I asked her about one job interview she conducted that stood out to her, and she told me there once was a fellow who came in and during the interview, outlined his critique of the newspaper. At first, she said, she was offended, Who are you to say what’s wrong with the newspaper?

And then, she had a revelation: he wasn’t saying it because he disliked the newspaper. He obviously cared enough to want it to succeed. It meant he read it regularly and did his homework. He was rooting for it.

She hired him.

He wasn’t a Yes Man.

If journalism had more of those kinds of people: those who see the problems as well as those who see the value of hiring those who are honest, truthful, and brave, we’d be in a better place.

But she was a rarity.

But Yes Men and Yes Women are the dead weight of any group — be it a company, family, industry, or nation. They are disloyal and treacherous, allowing rot to go on as they use the misdirection of cheerleading to seem devoted.

They just want to ensure they get pull out all the resources as they put nothing into it. They are the leeches who look for other people’s hard work, steal it as they nod deferentially, and then spin a narrative that those who are pointing out the rot are the traitors.

Raging egos always seek those from Yes, Inc. as they attack those whose perceptions are aligned with reality.

Journalism was destroyed by the infestation. Canada is being seriously weakened because of them.

When I was doing my own Method Research, I was doing it in hopes for finding an antidote to cure what ailed journalism. It now is way beyond saving. It needs a replacement with the structure that repels the Yes, Inc. assholes from gaining traction in the first place.

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Journalism became overrun with people who sucked the last drop of blood from the profession, attracting asset-squeezers who see there is nothing left but to grab the few prized-assets left. The profession became enraged — partly because no one wants to hear their party is over and now they have to find some other, less glamorous industry to suck dry, but that their charade was more transparent than they thought it was.

The temper tantrums from Yes, Inc. merely exposes their true motives for being in the business. Quality and calling have nothing to do with it. It was a mask of convenience to them where they could kiss up to power brokers and get things all while pretending to love their profession.

Nice try.

I saw those players. I covered those players. Certain professions attract leeches, and journalism was one of them.

The good guys of journalism were squeezed out a long time ago.

And yes, there were some very good people. I remember them fondly. Not all of them were journalists.

Some were behind the scenes, trudging in human resources.

But you cannot wear a mask of the past and then pretend that is the state of the present. One has nothing to do with the other.

I saw the shifts and conducted my own experiments and observations. It was a very stressing thing to witness.

I learned my lessons well, however.

And I am applying what I know so that the future has no semblance to the Dark Ages we call the Woke Generation.

Because the name in no way fits the goods. Yes, Inc. is the mindset going into 2019. People want validation when they have earned nothing less than a hard kick in the shins. All the games Yes People play: virtue-signalling, shaming — it’s all there.

But not all of us are fooled or will sit around and let it go unchallenged…

Memo to USA Today: the only ones unhinged are you. Half the country approves of the president. Most don't approve of you.

Hot off the heels of Time magazine declaring journalists Person of the Year, USA Today is upping the propaganda machine with this piece of obnoxious bullshit.

The fact remains that Trump is, in fact, a president whose approval ratings are on par with other US presidents. That means that people are not following journalist decrees and are making up their own minds.

But journalists are not very clever. They want a predictable president: one who follows rules so their pundits can look smart reading off a script. They hate mavericks and eccentrics because those people have something they always lacked: courage.

Barak Obama was a safe president. He obliged the script. He wore the mask and dutifully did what reporters thought he should do.

Trump doesn’t play. As I have said repeatedly, he is playing a far more complex game than journalists can compute. They aren’t just mad that he bypassed them to win the election; he is not marching like a dutiful little soldier to their specifications, and they are in a prolonged meltdown mode.

It is reporters who have become unhinged.

I have had no problem deciphering Donald Trump, for example from the day he announced his candidacy. If you understand the Game of Go, you can understand Donald Trump. If you understand the science of risk-taking, there is no murkiness here. None.

You would think that by now, journalists would calm down, stop being hysterical temper tantrum throwing lunatics, and observe and learn.

But they are very conniving. They do not want to admit any defect. They want the bygone days where they had all the power and control.

Assholes, the ship has sailed.

Journalists do not get that they are the villains, not the heroes in this farce, no matter how hard they try to sell a lie to the little people.

But how psychopathic is this self-serving bullshit story?

Try this for size:

Fixing our politics requires draining the office of both its formal powers and out-sized importance in American life.

In other words, we should ignore the Constitution, and the will of the electorate and take away the president’s powers because he isn’t playing by the rules sanctioned by the news media.

That is beyond sick. That is trying to overthrow a president by inciting a public, and it is treasonous.

Fuck you, USA Today. You scumbuckets never knew fuck all about journalism, and now you have decided to try to manipulate the public into regaining the power that you were never given in the first place.

No wonder the president calls you fake news: if you were real news, you would be reporting, not conning people into fucking up their country just because you couldn’t stop democracy or rig an election to suit your own vile purposes…

Journalism is no longer a thing? You don't say, That National Interest!

The National Interest has an article that pretty much rehashes what I have been saying here long before the idea popped into their heads: that journalism is no longer a thing.

Neither Bob Woodward's book (Trump really doesn't have anything to fear from it, USA Today as we learn nothing new from 2016) nor the New York Times' amateurish "anonymous" op-ed piece/lazy teenaged temper tantrum (if you don't know who wrote it, you are a lousy news producer) is killing Donald Trump. They didn't manage in 2016 when they proved to have lost their grip on power, and doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome is just plain nuts.

But apparently this obvious fact just dawned on The National Interest now:

They have largely succeeded in this goal, but in so doing, failed again to learn the lesson that was so easy to conclude from the 2016 election and Trump’s steady popularity levels since then. That lesson is that the media and the commentariat no longer determine public opinion. 

No matter how many outraged opinion pieces or news articles (but I repeat myself) the New York  Times produces, no matter how many smarter-than-thou analysts with non-prescription eyeglasses mope about sadly on CNN, no matter how many Obama fan boys and girls left in the White House press corps shriek at the president whenever in earshot, it just doesn’t matter anymore.

No kidding. I wrote the book on that.

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And another replay:

And while the New York  Times op-ed was a nice try by the media, they must on some level, deep down, grasp the new reality: no one hears their screams. 

No one hears the screams of a ghost. Journalism is dead. We need an alternative.

Let's try to keep up with the program, and stop being distracted by the zombie horde who still call themselves the press...

F.R.E.E.D. is information, not paranoid narrative.

Journalism is North America has always relied on narrative to package facts. Tell a story, even if one isn't actually there.

Here is a silly and oblivious story in USA Today with a headline that shows how out of touch journalism is with reality:

Gay Pride parades used to mean protests. Now they're an excuse for straight kids to party

I hate to burst the bubble to the LGBTQ identifiers, but pride parades were always protests for their in-group...and always a hip place to party for out-group straight kids because their parents got that ball rolling by taking them there for free entertainment. I know multiple generations of straight women who go every year to pride parades to hang out and party.

Just as there have been straight women hanging out in gay bars for the same reason.

It is usually nerdy straight white women who do not see Pride as a protest or an affront to their group because they are Princesses Without Flaw, but a place to brag to who she believes are nerdier and more conservative friends and acquaintances that she is doing something more hip, edgy, and enlightened than they ever will, and this is the easiest, cheapest, and most passive hack to do it.

What you have is two groups completely disconnected from one another who are running parallel in the same space, albeit on two different hamster wheels; so self-absorbed by their own mutually exclusive goals that they absolutely fail to see each other or comprehend how the other is actually interpreting this contrived environment.

One group thinks its parades are making a protest statement of defiance and anger, not realizing the other side interprets this as a fun and frivolous outing that someone spent time and resources putting up, and all they have to do is show up and reap the benefits. It is free entertainment and cheaper than going to the movies. It is also rarer, bringing up its cache for attending: anyone can go see a boring old Star Wars movie; but not everyone can go to a one-a-year parade.

The other group thinks here is a fun and flamboyant little party that is Instant Cool Fun and has nothing to do with icky things such as politics or telling off their own psychographic.

This phenomenon is nothing new. I know lots of straight people who have been seeing Pride as a Fun Thing To Do for decades -- and it's not even to show solidarity -- just to have some fun standing around and then rave to their Middle Class friends. Some of these straight parade crashers have even gotten insulted multiple times by those on the other side of the line in the sand, and never saw it as such, bragging with a completely opposite interpretation of those cutting remarks. No matter what Pride organizers say or do to make it clear what the intentions of this outing are, it will not be interpreted that way to their target audience whose lofty self-assessment filters out any negative implications.

They think they are perfect, as in without flaw; ergo, they never think, say or do anything wrong. Good luck having a parade with a message that implies the opposite. The word breeder is turned into a term of endearment to those stay-at-mall moms who see a Yummy Mommy every time they stare at their smart phone taking another selfie, and then all words and actions become nullified in the bargain and those protests are misinterpreted as something chic, slightly naughty (think 50 Shades of Obliviousness), but still acceptably mainstream kawaii, and that rainbow flag might as well be shucked for a Sanrio character, perhaps Kuromi.

It is akin to having two groups of people being tricked into wearing virtual reality glasses, and have no idea what is front of them is not what anyone else is seeing.

So, how to do you ensure facts can bypass self-preserving filters when the audience's interpretations of reality have a narrative that is rigged to ignore your intent?

Narrative is a problem when it doesn't align with reality, and when it doesn't, it becomes propaganda.

And right now, we do not have news. We have paranoid narrative, which is just another way of saying propaganda.

Journalists lost their minds in November 2016 when all of their decrees that no one was allowed to vote for Donald Trump fell on deaf ears. It was a shock that they still have not gotten over, and it should surprise no one that their breakdowns are getting out of control.

They are blaming Trump for separating children from their illegal immigrant parents, when it wasn't too long ago, they thought little boys who travelled hundred of miles allegedly by themselves was just so darned cute!

Which means these sentiments are mere Morals of Convenience, and it rings hollow, even with those super fake crocodile tears. For those of us who had sounded alarms about this global problem for years and were ignored, we are being ignored again because the facts we find still do not align with the journalistic narrative.

It must be maddening for the Western press whose tantrums help build the Trump brand and have turned his voters into his guardians. The press has even gone to smear with all sorts of sick allegations of incest, and nothing.

Even The Hill is starting to clue in that this whole Trump as Hitler propaganda campaign is not helping a dead profession resurrect itself. The rest of the press is not clicking with that reality.

I am surprised they haven't accused the First Family of cannibalism yet.

They did with Serbs, however.

Journalism, and "investigative journalism" is nothing but a joke -- and one filled with self-serving motives. The Russians are being made into the Villains who got Trump elected because it is too humiliating for the press to admit that one man could entirely bypass them to become president.

Here we have McClatchy -- a rickety media outlet with no teeth, babbling about how the Evil Russians are trying to "tear Americans apart" with their propaganda.

File it under "National Security."

Of course, the McClatchy story is meta-propaganda: it is propaganda about propaganda.

And it is pure bunk.

The entire purpose of the McClatchy propaganda and paranoid narrative is simple: to force monolithic thought and rig it to favour McClatchy.

The paint themselves as noble authorities and the subtext is clear: Villains want to divide us; ergo the solution is for all Americans to think alike and we will issue the directives on what you are supposed to think because you are not smart enough to know how to do it yourselves...

And don't vote for Trump in 2020. You are forbidden from having a nation with diversity of thought and opinion.

This is what so-called journalism has sunk down to: proving the Clash was right on the money with the song Know Your Rights.

It is just another scary story used to try to regain the power the press once held but lost because of their own arrogant and irresponsible nature. 

Nothing else.

That's not journalism. That's a scam.

Besides, nations have been meddling in other countries's affairs for centuries. The US does it all the time, but see their meddling and breaking up of other countries as Good for Democracy. Journalists have been doing it -- and it is the reason they are trying a little misdirection themselves: if they point out other people's meddling, no one will be looking at their meddling.

But their propaganda is based on an old model that is no longer in sync with a changing world, and it comes off as pathetic, self-serving, cringeworthy, and obvious.

It is the reason journalism is no longer a thing. Those in the profession are willing to throw half their population under the bus to reclaim their old power.

And you cannot resurrect that kind of information dissemination through the old methods because you still have immoral elements who would hijack, sabotage, and co-opt any attempt to improve the product because when you are dictating to the little people what to think, your motives are not to tell, but to sell.

Not to inform, but to persuade.

And that's not what the world needs.

It needs facts, data, and evidence free of those strings.

Enter F.R.E.E.D.

It is a method that liberates facts from narrative, and in such a way that it is useful to a general public.

One that already has their own blinders of narratives tainting information coming in.

But if there is a way to present facts that challenge narratives and propaganda, then we break a barrier.

And we can separate fact from narrative.

We have activists who are our flare-guns: shooting light on issues and people who have fallen into the cracks. They may have important information, but they often come with narratives that skew too much in unrealistic fables, moving too much into PR territory.

F.R.E.E.D. is the system to ensure those lost voices are heard and those lost souls are seen, but in a realistic light. They may be victims, but they are also mundane people, just like everyone else. Not better, not worse, not special, not deficient.

F.R.E.E.D. gives their facts and realities equal footing without the added public relations baggage that often hides the facts we need to know to find the right and just solution.

F.R.E.E.D. is about removing the compulsion to deify and demonize people as it rebels against labels. it has respect for audiences. It doesn't tell them how or what to think.

it gives them the fuel to drive their thought, however.

it is much more than just a laundry list of facts, however.

It shatters illusions and delusions. It shows reality to find truths.

it passes no judgement, but it does not use shame to condemn people, either.

Let the facts speak for themselves by opening up each atom to unleash what we need to know.

It shifts thinking away from narratives and asks questions such as why do people do absolutely everything except the very thing needed to be done to solve a problem?

That is the first and core question: Why do people stay locked in their own prisons when they can make their own key to their own freedom?

That was journalism's job: to find the keys to freedom, and they did everything else but that. They saw the lock and then a bad thought took hold: why not keep that lock in place where we have a captive audience who will listen to us as we promise to find that ever-elusive key for them?

And then the Internet hit them like a tidal wave and tore the door open, and the captive audience escaped.

November 2016 was the first realization that the door of the cell could no longer keep everyone in -- and they went in all sorts of shocking and unpredictable directions.

In a world of freedom, journalism is not the conduit of information anymore.

It is F.R.E.E.D.

The Fish in the Barrel: how ignorance destroyed critical thinking -- and watching a confidence game unfold right before my eyes.

I am always fascinated by human behaviour, and how we have layers: the poor live in a hard layer. The rich also live in a hard layer because getting rich requires cunning. The middle class are the soft layer: they have the rich to employ them, and the poor to make them feel superior to someone who has it harder than they do.

Revolutions happen when this dynamic is destroyed and the former soft layer is thrown into the hard layer of poverty. When you are middle class, you have the luxury to fantasize about being rich and famous. When you were middle class, and are now poor, that pacifier is snatched from you, you're life theories are proven wrong, and now someone is going to pay for it.

You become so blinded by your broken dreams that someone can round up all of the other broken dreamers, manipulate them, and then turn them into pawns to gain more power while promising paradise is right around the corner if they kill all those who destroyed their dreams.

Human nature is predictable, and this has been a trusty way of gaining power across the globe for centuries.

Except now.

The Internet has done a very interesting thing: it has bypassed having to destroy the middle class to create the same anger, particularly in the United States -- a country that once warned its own people that "united we stand; divided we fall."

And the US is rapidly dividing. 

You have rich and sheltered people talking about "Resistance." You have A-list actresses voguing for the camera, dressed to the nines as they are protesting on the red carpet. You have so many linear divides that civil war is inevitable.

The Internet created a hot bed of hatred and pure stupidity where people's narratives have miscategorized them -- and if you do not know your place, then, you do not know your surroundings, either.

Part of the reason is that journalism destroyed itself by not keeping up with the times -- or, put another way, misinterpreted their own reality, seeing themselves as invincible because there once was a rig to give them all the power of communications.

What the US is experiencing is anarchy. That soft layer of the middle class -- who are not trained to think too critically -- are now looking online for their cheat sheet of how to interpret reality.

And it is bringing genuine fear into their beliefs.

We can take a look at a very flawed story from USA Today about how Russia bought Facebook ads -- but if you actually read those ads, it is pseudo-propaganda.

Fake propaganda.

It is peculiar thing to see fake propaganda, and I am someone who researches propaganda.

So why bother with buying ads that won't do the trick?

The reporters never actually looked to see if Russians bought those ads for their own purposes -- or if someone else used a proxy to do it.

It seems like the perfect bait and misdirection: have everyone so focussed on someone else, that you can manipulate the fearful to get them to trust you right before you start to exploit that fear.

The story is pure confirmation bias: the Russians would not be the only nation or even corporation to play such a gambit. When we have companies and governments spends billions of dollars in researching persuasion, why would they use an inferior form of persuasion?

FARA is an anti-propaganda law that has been on the books in the US since 1938. 

That means propaganda has always been a concern, especially after the Second World War -- and yet, most people have no training in spotting actual propaganda.

Because propaganda is a war strategy -- create a crisis, and then people will follow you in a bid to save themselves.

In the classic (and ancient) text The 36 Stratagems of War, there is a Winning Stratagem:

Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west.

So what we are witnessing right now is precisely that: someone going through an awful lot of trouble drawing attention on the Russians, leaving the US vulnerable to threats who have a vested interest in creating that chaos.

Someone who knows Americans' xenophobic tendencies, and was around to remember how fearful people were during the Cold War.

We are seeing a very peculiar disintegration of a nation that has very little reason to fall apart.

We are seeing this rage of hysteria that reminds me a lot of the confidence game of Find the Lady or Find the Peanut.

Both games require a pigeon to have their guard down using both arrogance and fear.

The fear is created by a confederate of the huckster with the cards or shells -- someone who looks like they are just someone in the crowd who warns to pigeon that the dealer "is cheating."

This part is true. The dealer is crooked, but so is the concerned citizen who seems kind enough to share that with the sucker.

The sucker now feels connected to the false guardian who then promises to keep an eye on the dealer.

But this isn't what happens. The confederate gives a false sense of power to the pigeon, who then overestimates his knowledge and evening cunning, guaranteeing he is going to play to win an unwinnable game.

The pigeon's fear is used to create arrogance, thinking he has "figured out" the dealer, but then is fleeced, and the confederate gets a share of that windfall.

The pigeon loses no matter what -- except under two conditions:

1. He doesn't play. He walks away from the greed scam. He doesn't believe the dealer -- or the "helpful" confederate. The illusion of having two sides is seen for what it is, and the potential dupe doesn't fall for the bait.

2. He exposes the con. He knows there is no peanut under any shells or Queen of Hearts on the table. He can flip over any two shells or cards, and then state that the one that wasn't flipped must have the winning shell or card. It doesn't, but the dealer cannot risk exposure. The dealer will most likely take off with the funds, but he knows he was made.

And right now we are watching a game of Find the Lady.

If we had real journalism, we'd already know who is the grifter and his confederates.

But we don't. We have fear-mongers running around like chickens without heads. There are no rational fact-gatherers pointing out the games to the soft layers of society.

This information void is unprecedented as is the behaviour of a soft layer behaving as if they became dispossessed.

The end result will also be unprecedented -- and unpredictable, even to those who are creating that false crisis. It is not hard to riddle out most of this game, given the structure and content of this siege of ignorant fear, but how it was all break and explode will be very interesting.

However, it is a confidence game that is beneath me. There are more important things to do right now -- and if people choose to fear and to hate, then so be it.

But I will not enable or indulge their ignorance -- or arrogance...