The hidden impact of ‘fake news’ the mainstream won’t tell you

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Mick Meaney

I built RINF Alternative News around 12 years ago… it’s always been an independent news website, and I have always maintained it.

Recently the site found its way onto that list of supposed ‘fake news’. The same list that’s currently dominating the news.

Corporate media organisations attempted to smear every website that’s listed, and now there are even calls for the law to be changed that would stop us from presenting a counter-view to the mainstream offering.

The purpose of this post is not to delve into the politics of that list, but to talk about the immediate impact it has had, at least on my website.

You might think that such ‘naming and shaming’ across the global media would be bad for business.

Not so. In fact, this has possibly been the biggest endorsement we could have ever hoped to receive.

The independent media, by its very nature is the enemy of the mainstream. We only exist because they have frequently repeatedly failed to uphold journalistic integrity.

When that mainstream media considers us a threat, it signals that we are on the right path, we are doing a good job. That we are having an impact.

It’s no secret that polarizing audiences can do wonders for your brand – when it’s authentic.

It plays directly into the bandwagon effect, a common psychological phenomenon where people make choices based on the apparent choices of others.

The mainstream media were undoubtedly hoping to tap into herd mentality.

The harder you condemn a group of people, an idea or a cause, the more those who oppose that idea will align themselves to you. Politicians use the technique perfectly.

But for the most part, the attempt backfired.

When you’re being attacked by such a large entity as the mainstream media in this way, a strange thing happens… you instantly become the underdog.

Because the mainstream media’s reasons for publicising the list were entirely for their own gain, it was not in the best interests of their readers, their customers.

It was a selfish act, for their own preservation and as a result most people see through it.

My inbox is full of people thanking me for ‘standing up’ against them.

It puts us in a ‘David versus Goliath’ situation. People love an underdog, someone to root for. And it’s required absolutely zero additional effort on my part.

Another unexpected side-effect is the level of credibility it gives.

Suddenly, a sceptical public now have a list of ‘genuine’ independent news sources. The real deal. An ‘alternative’ media legitimised by the acknowledgement of how dangerous we are, how we must be stopped and how people should fear us.

Are we the new rock n’ roll? The latest designer drug?

No, it’s much less exciting than that. In fact the mainstream reaction has long been expected by us. We’ve been waiting for this. And there’s more to follow.

The mainstream media market share is steadily decreasing year on year, while ours increases.

Combine that with the fact that their business model is dying; newspaper sales are in freefall.

This means less advertising revenue. National newspapers reported an 11% fall last year alone, with some titles reporting a 13% fall.

This amounts to a 29% fall in profits for some newspapers.

They aren’t going to go quietly.

So a word of caution to all you entrepreneurs, it’s only a matter of time before print media in it’s current format becomes extinct. Avoid it or do it better than what’s out there at the moment.

But don’t think there is money to be found in the independent media.

Pretty much everybody in this started out because we felt exposing political corruption was the right thing to do.

But money doesn’t care about ethics and it doesn’t care how right you are.

So as a result most independent media sites don’t make a great deal of money, but a small number do and they have built a devoted following over many years. It’s taken a long time to get there, to work a 40 hour week would be a dream… a 16 hour day isn’t out of ordinary, vacations and days-off are rare.

Revenue is mostly generated through advertising. A payout is typically made for every 1000 people who visit.

For us a payout can often be as low as $0.10 per every 1000 people who visit, with the Cost Per Mille (CPM) advertising model.

This is because advertisers generally stay away from controversial websites, and you’d be hard-pushed to find a more controversial niche.

So you can imagine just how little most sites actually make.

This fact does somewhat prove an accusation by the mainstream media. We are dangerous, but not for the reasons they want you to believe. We’re dangerous because we can’t be bought.

If our motivation was financial gain, then there are much easier ways to make money.

Most of us never expected to make any money at all, and the prospect of losing it isn’t deterrent enough for us to quit. We do it because we need to do it, it’s a passion.

And for that reason taking away our exposure in search engines and social media won’t mean much to us, because those organisations already fail to promote most of what we produce.

Taking away what little advertising revenue we earn won’t make that much difference, most of us started this as a side passion and never thought it could become more than that – and in the early days even back when we knew hardly anybody was reading, the independent media still showed up everyday and exposed corruption, inequality and inhumanity.

The number of hits, Youtube views, etc, etc, are not important.

The number of readers and reach across social media is not something most talk about, it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t matter if just a handful of people read the info we share, or tens of millions.

The information is being published either way.

The motivation of the independent media is not the same as the corporate media, they are dealing with something they do not understand.

They work for statistics, for targets, for profit.

We work for truth, so we can look our children in the eye and tell them that somebody tried to stand up against mass surveillance, illegal wars and crimes against humanity, against corrupt politicians and the corporations who control them.

The relationship between mainstream journalists and politicians has become symbiotic.

Journalists want scoops, it increases their value. To get scoops they need to buddy-up to politicians. They do that by writing stories that cast politicians or their policies in a favorable light.

Corporations buy influence with politicians through donations and lobbying.

The same corporations that advertise in the mainstream media.

The same mainstream media that wants to silence us.

Do you see how it works?