Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Formula

There is a standard formula for media which draws and engages people, a formula followed by publishers since the 18th century. We can see it in yellow journalism of all kinds: shock jock radio hosts, Fox News, the Huffington Post, and political blogs of all stripes. It goes back to the Penny Dreadfulls, to the rags of the French and American Revolutions. Even Ben Franklin was a notorious purveyor of yellow journalism, which is how he kept his publishing business profitable.

Of course, not everyone follows the formula; it is possible to draw a following with insight and information, with genuine knowledge and expertise. You can attract people with this, but it requires effort, and it won't make you rich. Your profit margin will be low, and you won't become a media baron--at best, you will become a media presence.

But if you wish to become a media baron, the formula is simple. Here it is:

1) Choose Your Audience: Decide what your target audience is. It must be a broad section of society, usually a major political faction or party. The smaller and more special interest the group, the smaller your following. So, for example, don't target a specific Christian sect, target all Christians, and keep it vague. Lumping them all in together will become easier once you define them by providing enemies. It is far easier to unite people against something than it is to unite them for something. The key is to create something they can all hate.

2) Make People Angry: People are engaged by strong emotions, and the best is anger. Too much fear will drive them off, sentimentality is hard to maintain (though some manage), and laughter takes talent. Anger, though, is dead simple. It requires no research, no talent, and little expense. One needs only follow the rules of the formula.

3) Create Enemies: Tell your audience that those who disagree with them are dedicated to their downfall. Tell them that these people are their enemies, and if they should suceed, all that your audience have ever worked for or hoped for will be undone. Tell your audience that they are dangerous, and that their success will bring on something akin to the apocalypse. Prurient outrage is the easiest; show that the enemy likes sex, and your audience will never forgive him.

4) Build Strawmen: Under no circumstances present these enemies as reasonable people. Distort their views until they become monsters. Having done so, demonstrate how these views lead to every manner of crime and catastrophe. Depict them as advocates and practitioners of every vice and sin imaginable, and encouraging the same for everyone else.

5) Lie: Lies will feed your accusations, and outrage the opposition, so you will now have anger from all sources. Even your opponents will now frequent your media, if only to try to counter what you are saying. This will give you their names and addresses (which you can sell) and extra sales, but you can also select the worst of these outraged responses to print or post for the amusement of your target audience, and the further outrage of the opposition.

6) Teach Nothing: Reality is surprising and rarely conforms to our expectations, but anything that does not conform to the expectations of your audience will make them uncomfortable. Shield them from this, or they may desert you. If an new fact appears, spin it so that it does not challenge their beliefs. If there is a lesson to be learned, hide it. The only lesson they should hear is for others, not for them. Assure them that there is nothing that they need to learn. Best of all, this means that you require no research, which is expensive. You need only provide opinions on what is already known, and this is dirt cheap.