As I understand it, the Republican party is imploding and their idea of an ‘establishment’ that controls the reins of their party no longer exists. There is no single establishment candidate, establishment media source, or establishment vision that somehow ensures that the party can stay in control of their legacy tribe. Fox News is no longer ‘conservative enough’ for content farms like Breitbart and their millions of readers. While this could be attributed to a ‘desire for change’ within the party, the anti-establishment chasms in both popular political parties could be blamed on the proliferation of excess content.
Trumpbait, the mutated form of Clickbait that resonates with mass audiences has been the Republican Establishment’s worst nightmare. It’s a time where it is impossible to decipher what media mentions even mean when there are just too many content farms publishing #trending stories. The trends aren’t actually trending, and the media outlets found on Google News might not actually be read by real humans anyways. Popularity and electability may or may not be correlated, and I don’t mean that in a challenging way. They really might or might not be. No one knows because the digital media landscape is so wide-reaching.
Leading up to the Iowa caucuses, we’ve seen multiple conservative media outlets steer their coverage in order to steer the hearts and minds of voters. The conservative media outlet seeks the spotlight, building a platform that will last even longer than a Presidential term. While this is the norm in political media, it seems out of place with the big box media mindset these days. Allowing your brand to steer right, life, pro-establishment or anti-establishment simply isolates too many potential content consumers.
Currently, ‘the conversation’ has zeroed in on Donald Trump, the lighting rod for the anti-establishment zeitgeist of conservative America. He’s obviously controversial, but we are at a point in the race where every conservative media outlet is attempting to use their #influence to sway the Republican nomination.
Every content farm posts the same stories, but the angle changes from outlet to outlet. If only these outlets knew that polarizing political content isn’t what builds a successful media brand. Instead of agonizing over one candidate, they should think about launching content verticals that have a ‘conservative’ take on tech, Millennial interests, and positively shareable stories.
For instance, the National Review’s anti-Trump manifesto issue attempted to sway control of ‘the polls’ away from the front runner. Perhaps it is just time for media outlets to stop feeling the need to endorse or attack a candidate. That has a way of isolating at least half of your audience. The smart content farming business decision is to ‘pull a Slate.com’ and offer content for people who hate Donald Trump, people who love Donald Trump, and for people who are still making up their mind.
Nonetheless, you’ve got to keep delivering the Trumpbait. It’s working better than Clickbait in this election year. There’s no time for a media company to even ponder their affiliation with ‘the Establishment agenda.’ An establishment party can’t deliver an establishment candidate because there isn’t an established media thought leader. Instead, the internet has enabled multiple voices who are inherently anti-establishment independent media companies to build smaller tribes. Sure, a Fox News has multiple mediums of consumption, but a media brand that strong is perceived as a celebrity caricature in the same species of a Donald Trump.
The conservative content farm is rallying to create their vision for America, but in the process they aren’t being great content farmers. Sure, having an editorial voice is a tool that your media outlet needs, but it’s not actually important. The big box content farm should be part of the Internet Establishment, steering the minds of internet users to want more content that makes them feel informed. The Internet Establishment gives you the option of diving into every viewpoint.
The mechanisms of an establishment are a more difficult in the age of omnipresent content. Media distrust and establishment distrust go hand-in-hand. The content farm era of media has made it more difficult to control the mindset of a tribe with an editorial voice. You can’t steer the conversation because every single conversation is happening at once. The big box content farm is the ultimate candidate, churning out content that is universally likeable.
Life on the Content Farm is a weekly column about internet media written by the last relevant blogger.