How to kill a media consultant

Let us say that you would like to be the head of a new-media company. Let us say that you are a minor mystery novelist with no particular experience in journalism, but with a big ego and a massive axe to grind against the mainstream media, so you have wheezy visions of totally transforming the way news is collected. This is called "hubris".

The first thing you'll want to do is to find a bunch of like-minded partners with whom you can trade quips about how corrupt, incompetent and liberally biased the mainstream media is. As time progresses and you become more entranced with your own cleverness, you should move as far to the right ideologically as you can, all the while claiming that it was the press that betrayed you instead of the other way around.

Once you've gathered a flotilla of self-absorbed dimwits (get as many as you can; it'll increase your chances of stumbling across a golden angel willing to invest those all-important $$$ in your new media venture!), it's time for your first big move. Since your key demographic is basement-dwelling cranks with nothing but time on their hands, see if you can get them to pick apart an innocuous story by a respected legitimate journalist. It shouldn't be hard; the trade isn't what it used to be thanks to decades of pandering to low-grade ideologues like yourself. Just raise a big enough stink and squawk the words "liberal media bias" over and over again, and eventually the journalist's employers will cave. He'll get fired, even though you're never actually able to prove that he did anything wrong. Congratulations! You've toppled an old-media giant.

Now it's time to take one giant leap forward. Announce that you are forming a for-profit company out of your loose aggregation of pissed-off conservative quasi-pundits. Use lots of terms like "new media" and "revolution in journalism" and "a new method of fact-checking" and "a professional news service for citizen journalists". Go public so that dopey right-wingers will toss money at you even though you don't really have any kind of business plan or apparent means for making money. Hey, you're part of the new media! You don't have to make plans or come up with revenue streams or any of that second-wave horseshit! You're on the cutting edge. When it comes time to pick a keynote speaker for the big event, go with a big name from the old-media world. Some people will criticize your choice as being a journalist even more fraudulent and disgraced than the old-media giant whose demise made your reputation. Do not listen to those people. They are just jealous of your forward-looking new-media ways.

With that out of the way, it's time to get to work. You're a publicly traded new-media dynamo now, not some shifty concatenation of hack bloggers! Still, there's no reason to actually do anything like train your shifty concatenation of hack bloggers in journalistic techniques. Simply write them a big check and have them go on as usual, writing a bunch of bullshit about whatever crosses their candy-colored little minds. You can even have one token liberal, but get rid of him quick lest he point out that you're not actually doing anything different than you were before the new-media revolution. Oh, yeah: you forgot to figure out where you're going to get your actual reportage from! Ah, fuck it, just pull that shit off the wire services like every other old-media outlet in the world does.

Hey, wait! You forgot to pick a name! That's the most important part. At first, you might want to select a name that implies a dynamic, user-friendly media organization that's free for all -- a true beacon that's open to all users, not just a self-congratulatory clique of half-baked ideologues talking to themselves. But don't get too snooty -- you don't want to sound too new-media, especially if you run the risk of getting sued by someone else who's already using that name. Hey, I know: why not name yourself after what you wore to bed last night? Then design a really crappy logo, and constantly remind your readers that unlike them, you don't even have to get dressed to go to work! That's super-duper-professional, and they'll be bound to respect you.

Now that you've fully established yourself, you'd better buckle down and get busy. Forget about any high-level defections you might encounter early on, or the petty distractions of your investors and business partners constantly asking how this thing is ever going to turn a buck. You have no time for that stuff! You're a citizen journalist! Besides, if they pull out, you can always find new investors and advertisers, especially if you soft-pedal the fact that your co-founder runs a racist hate site populated by
bloodcrazy loons. Spend the next two years being the best darn new media venture you can be, and try not to make a seemingly endless series of gaffes, boners and comically ridiculous missteps that make your company seem less like a revolution in journalism and more like a get-rich-quick scheme cooked up by Fred Flintstone.

At this point, your venture should be as highly respected as the old-media giant you single-handedly brought down. Your name should be on the lips of every American as their most trusted source of citizen journalism, and your leading reporters should be a classy bunch who bring only the finest reportage to a trusting public. Still, you're missing one thing: a big scoop. A stunning revelation about world affairs, an important breaking story where you get there first and prove that you're better than all the big boys after all.

Put your finest mind on the case, and the odds are he'll come through like gangbusters. Unfortunately, the old media being what they are, his story may be held to antiquated notions of truth, despite all the trouble you went to establish all those swell new methods of fact-checking. A bunch of snobby elitists lacking the wherewithal to establish their own new-media companies, and who therefore have no right to criticize yours, are going to demand a slightly higher standard of proof than 'this one guy I know says it's totally true', and, despite your ongoing efforts to paint them as part of a global conspiracy to make you look foolish, they may just manage to convince the whole world that your one big scoop was just a bunch of bullshit.

This is called "what comes around goes around, kid".

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