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Daily Balajisms - Downstream media
Media became wrappers around tweets
Mainstream media turned into downstream media. They are downstream of the internet, says Balaji Srinivasan. The social war is happening on Twitter, Substack and TikTok. And corporate media content is increasingly just wrappers around tweets.
Balaji says, that every company is a media company now, commenting on news that Tesla dissolved its PR department in a pioneering move.
It’s a long-term trend that was accelerated after 2020, with political polarization of Covid-19, where the downstream media narrative flipped multiple times. When Trump feared the spread of virus in early 2020, downstream media dangerously downplayed the risk, just to get clicks. When he later flipped his position, they did too. Masks reportedly didn’t work, before they did.
Balaji was an early advocate of treating Covid-19 seriously and he correctly predicted many events very early – in January 2020. This put him in the limelight.
He, and people in tech, were targeted by downstream media for taking precautions early. Recode/Vox run their “No handshakes, please” story even after he called them out.
Before Covid, Balaji thought many corporate journalists are evil (zero-sum: win for them vs loss for you). But after Covid, he realized they are just stupid (negative-sum: loss for them and loss for you).
Because, by spending down their clout for clicks and downplaying the pandemics in early 2020, they helped to cause severe human suffering and economic pain not just to others, but also to themselves.
Balaji explains how AI, like ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion, will disrupt traditional media and Hollywood, and will allow people from around the world to tell their own stories and myths.
Why are downstream media driving political polarization for clicks? They were disrupted by tech, therefore they hate tech. Social media took away their advertisers, and Balaji shows how their revenue collapsed dramatically in a short period of time.
As a way to survive, they switched to subscriptions and they had to abandon their pretense of neutral journalism (the paper of record), and went fully partisan. And their usage of what we would call woke words went vertical.
The paper of record (NYT) misled the US and global public many times over decades, as Ashley Rindsberg documented in his book The Gray Lady Winked.
Downstream media are driven by search for popularity and not truth. The “paper of record” is about an argument from authority. Balaji has a concept of the Ledger of Record – a cryptographically verifiable and immutable truth based on evidence (like DeSci and composable science) and secured by crypto-oracles and blockchains.