In an attempt to avoid writing something complaining about how American mega-media loves when the government exercises power (instead of, for instance, liking outcomes, like a normal person might), I think it might be necessary to talk about how most journalists are reporting on YouTube. I've written before about YouTube, and it might be time to explain why.
YouTube is perhaps the most concrete representation of the Internet's promise. It is surprisingly parasocial (when it isn't actually social), promotes a shocking array of different viewpoints (shocking, at least, to advertisers who don't want their brands associated with flat earth and conspiracy videos), has no gatekeeper, has a way to make money built in, is massively popular all over the world (except China), and frequently involves the quintessential new-school rule-breaking: looking directly into camera, and saying what you think. I don't understand film-making, but I understand that jump cuts are considered lazy, ugly, and confusing. Well, YouTube is the land of jump cuts, perfect for reflecting real people, who are, generally, lazy, ugly, and confusing. There's something charming about that – a whole new visual style built around the understanding that things won't be perfect. And it's one of the biggest websites on Earth.
But in almost all news coverage, it's depicted badly. This isn't too surprising – everybody gets bad press every once in a while. But YouTube also (somewhat incidentally) competes with news organizations for attention and ad dollars. Why listen to some boring be-suited "anchor" read off a teleprompter when you can have a real human say their real opinion? And why not listen to an actual person deciding what's important or interesting, based on their own values, which almost never resemble those of CNN's news director?
I think it's easy to say there's a conflict of interest between New Media and Old Media, and write this off to some low level corruption, combined with a bias towards controversy and a bias towards dismissing younger people. But I find myself still surprised, and I think it has something to do with the bias to power I mentioned in the headline.
I couldn't for the life of me figure out why MatPat couldn't even pay to get positive coverage for YouTubers on even the most milquetoast of morning shows. PR firms work minor miracles, and the submarine news stories they push out are some of the most stupefyingly boring stories you'll ever read. And yet, when you hire a PR firm, they can push stories that are boring and don't fit the usual model. But MatPat had difficulty with cooperative, on-message positive reporting on morning shows. This isn't competitive, and he doesn't come across as that young (maybe dyeing his hair back to brown would help, though). So my model needed to be even more pessimistic about how YouTube was being reported on.
I think it's that they perceive people with less power as beneath them. They don't just report stories, they report Important Stories. They don't just follow interesting people, they follow every action of Authoritative Influencers. Their job is diminished by telling stories about small things and small people, and everyone is small when they haven't passed a gatekeeper.
Of course, I stopped consuming mega-news outlets some time ago. I could tell you the names of the people who tell me stories. Because I trust them, and know who they are. Maybe that's the most important element of all of this – that we need to care about how much we trust each other more, and impress each other less. There's no other way to avoid the allure of power.