It turns out that pornography and journalism have even more in common than media critics think: the Internet is wrecking business models in both industries in similar ways.


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The woes of journalism get the most ink. Lines upon lines have been written about the inexorable decline of the journalistic profession—most of them scribbled by nervous, hand-wringing journalists. The perceptive among them have the outlines of the story about right:

The Internet has undermined the authority of legacy media’s voice by empowering a large community of amateur bloggers who have not only been able to fact-check mainstream media claims in near real-time, but have in some cases been able to outdo the old organizations’ coverage of various stories in depth and nuance. Savvy news consumers realized that they could increasingly rely on these new media outlets to supplement and in some cases completely supplant the coverage of newspapers like the New York Times and cable news outlets like CNN and Fox News.

The Internet also gutted the value of advertising (and continues to do so relentlessly), as Google and other ad networks revealed just how ineffective most of it actually is. It used to be that companies wouldn’t flinch to drop several million dollars on campaigns in glossy magazines, convinced that the “eyeballs” passing over their slick branding were being converted into customers. With the advent of online analytics, and with conversions becoming a hard statistic rather than something measured through market surveys, this illusion became harder and harder to sustain.

Against this familiar backdrop, two interesting stories were published last week. The first, from The Guardian, sketched out the tawdry decline of the porn industry in the Internet era. Lurid details aside, the significance of the story is that porn has always been a sort of technological canary in the coal mine—and it continues to be just that:


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In essence, as with every other media evolution of the last 30 years, from VHS to DVDs to the birth of the internet, porn was once again leading the way, only this time into obsolescence.

Read More at The American Interest. By Walter Russell Mead.


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