Mainstream media is a highly centralised system. TV and Radio relies on a state owned system of relays and transmitters, (at least in Europe) and newspapers are essentially a manufacturing and distribution industry with journalists attached. These are the hangovers from an older era, an era where information was costly to transmit, difficult to collate and from a world that moved more slowly. Simply, they are ripe for disruption.
The overheads of a TV station are considerable. A very large campus, multiple buildings, large studios, huge electric bills, and a massive admin staff to push the relevant papers around to complete the cycle of bureaucracy. Private TV stations are market facing, but still subject to the diminishing returns of their inflexible and costly business structure. National (government owned) broadcasters are even less market facing.
The nightly news is half hour slot, with a 3-4 minute break midway. This leaves about time for 8, 3 minute news slots, one of which is the mandatory human interest story . This business model is fundamentally not sufficient to report on fast moving and relevant issues. Their reliance on advertising to cover the large overheads makes them inflexible to changing this model. This cannot compare to a podcast which devotes an entire hour to a topic, involving in depth analysis produced for very small money in makeshift studio, and distributed online.
Blogs are the natural competitor to the newspaper industry. Although the newspaper industry has been more market facing and has adapted to the internet age more readily. They still have physical material to move, which involves supply chains mainly focused on moving dead trees.
The alt Media can be loosely considered to be social media, blogs, podcasts and websites. The advantages of the Alt Media over Legacy Media are
- The Alt Media is decentralised; and so cannot be censored or put out of business by a single point of failure.
- The Alt Media is disintermediated; it does not need third parties for distribution – it is straight from producer to consumer.
- The Alt Media is democratic with low barriers to entry – anyone can do it with a low cost set up.
- The Alt Media is Disruptive as it obeys exponential improvements due to Moore’s law type trends. The technology used to make and receive Alt Media double in performance for the same price point roughly every 2 years. Legacy Media cannot claim that their soundstages or printing presses become twice as cheap to run every two years.
- The Alt Media is antifragile; rather than being harmed by shocks and attacks, it absorbs these stressors and grows stronger.
- The Alt Media is market facing; most producers of Alt Media are involved in the movements they comment on, whereas professional journalists are often removed from the grass roots of their report topics.
- The Alt Media is not financially vulnerable; most are donation funded, or with low income revenue models. A lot of Alt Media is done part time as an additional revenue source. The chilling effect of unhappy advertisers is removed. Alt Media has very low to zero overheads depending on the medium.
- The Alt Media doesn’t care what you think of it. It exerts its right to exist.