FRONT-PAGE HOUNDS & SUBSTANTIVES IN A FAKE MEDIA WORLD
We live in an era of professional front-page hounds, and Trump is not the only one. We need to understand this creature and conduct ourselves accordingly. We’re being played.
Front-page hound: Someone who can advance personal goals just by increasing their name recognition. Politicans, actors, singers and religious figures fall into this category. If their success is confusing for you, you might be a substantive.
Substantive: Someone who believes in something and has more than a cursory level of education on the issue they believe in.
1. It doesn’t matter why front-page hounds are ‘on the front page,’ negative or positive, as long as they are on the front page regularly (or all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, television etc.)
2. If they are on the front page their competitors are not. If the conversation is about the hound’s opinion or action, it’s not about their competitor’s opinion or action.
3. If the hound’s coverage is too negative, the best antidote is to ramp it up, preventing any resolution of the last controversy before the next controversy arises. Distraction. Constant coverage. No real conclusion. No problem.
4. In the information age/splintered media/social media world, front-page news can seem like the only news, as it gets replicated and aggregated millions of times. If it bleeds it leads. If it shocks it rocks.
5. Front-page hounds may ‘believe’ something or ‘believe in’ something, but not deeply. Their expertise is not in any one thing. Their expertise is in hooking and playing the mainstream and social media. Their expertise is clickbait, controversy and show biz.
6. Substantives care about issues, want to be accurate, evidence-based, sensible in their positions, consistent and respected. They trade away coverage in exchange for credibility.
7. Front-page hounds don’t care about issues, except to use issues to acquire coverage. They care about coverage. They don’t care about accuracy or evidence or consistency. Being inaccurate and inconsistent is actually a plus because it ramps up the controversy level, and thus ramps up the coverage. The only respect they care about are the metrics that come with coverage.
Media colleagues, we’re being played. Not so long ago we gave more coverage to the shooters than the victims, however in the past few years we have corrected this. We thought about it.
Just today a national newspaper in Canada, the Toronto Star, ran an item warning the public about some unregistered cryptocurrencies. But then they ran a big logo of one of the questionable companies, providing excellent national publicity for this company. Did they think about it?
It’s time to ignore or play down the hounds and promote the substantives. We’re professionals. We can find ways to make the substantives more exciting.