Why the MSM Hates SEO: It Undermines Their Authority

A while ago I wrote about some of the reasons SEO is given a bad wrap in general. Rand also posted today about how being an SEO is like being a plastic surgeon. I think another key issue which is not typically discussed much is the concept of authority and how it plays a role in media influence. If search may have the power to undermine many locally monopolistic publishing companies it benefits those companies to state that search has holes in it and that people manipulate it. Don't trust search - trust us, your reliable honest trustworthy truthful blah blah blah media source.

Circulation is directly proportional to revenue at large media companies. A story about some evil manipulative ____ is doing __________ is easier to spread than a story about how wonderful SEOs are.

Large media companies are owned by corporations with ties to other mega corporations. They have a long history of sticking up for one another even when they are 100% in the wrong, and have went as far as syndicating public relations garbage to the general populous to sell bogus wars.

Television stations present unoriginal sponsored pre-packaged content as though it is original home grown reporting.

Even some school text books and prestigious journals are created or sponsored by ultra biased self-interested companies.

From the Wikipedia public relations page:

Instances of the use of front groups as a PR technique have been documented in many industries. For example, the coal mining corporations have created environmental groups that contend that increased CO2 emmissions and global warming will contribute to plant growth and will be beneficial, trade groups for bars and beer distributers have created and funded citizens' groups to attack Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and tobacco companies have created and funded citizens' groups to advocate for tort reform and to attack personal injury lawyers.

I believe that for the most part unbiased content will grow less and less profitable and decrease in quality and availability as time passes and more publishers are forced to become more aggressive with their monetization efforts. Google's drive for efficiency will train many independent publishers how to replace traditional media. Social networks and media consumption habits will also be heavily tracked and greatly replace the role of traditional intermediaries.

Clearly the current US government is not interested in the concept of free speech, as displayed by their disregard for net neutrality and their relative over-taxation of VoIP:

"The FCC's efforts on VoIP are like trying to solve traffic and energy problems by stifling the rollout of energy-efficient hybrid vehicles, while subsidizing SUVs," he said.

If you are exercising influence to dupe people it is fine if you are already in a seat of power, but if you are not then they want to expose you to make it look as though they are more pure - when it is rarely the case.

As corporations increasingly are able to embed themselves into the genes of humanity and create communication roadblocks while syndicating spin is there a way beyond it all? Will popular opinion be nothing more than people expressing how they are trained to think?

Sorry for all these cryptic rant posts. They are primarily driven from the following elements

  • I have a killer flu / strep throat / headache / etc

  • Last weekend offered many experiences which made me realize a general lack of purpose and a lack of passion I have been living with for a while, which sucks. I not only saw the passion with which some others live with, but also broadened my perspectives in a few other ways, and that made me feel great guilt for my lack of passions and living less than optimally for far too long.
  • I went from being a total failure to pretty successful pretty quick (at least financially), but I feel the learning curve has leveled off to where I have become pretty bored recently, and still need to do a lot of work on the social / physical / mental aspects of life.
  • I think it is important to question my own actions and authority MORE than I question anything else. I generally have a distaste for authority, and in the last month I have
    • worked with people who are true mentors (though I feel they think more of me than I think of myself)

    • been mentioned on my favorite marketing blog (thanks Seth)
    • been asked to co-author books by well known publishers
    • been asked to review papers for well known journals (when I don't know shit about peer review processes, etc.)
    • been asked to talk to deans of a couple schools about how I would modify their courses (when I never went to college and only started learning about the web less than 4 years ago)
  • That sort of opportunity has gotten to feel a bit surreal when coupled with a feeling of stagnation and lacking purpose.
  • I recently started reading A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, and it is probably the most powerful, insightful, and worldview changing book I have ever read. And I am only like half way done with it.
  • I have been thinking on some of Chomsky's philosophies

    So does misrepresentation bother me? Sure, but so does rotten weather. It will exist as long as concentrations of power engender a kind of commissar class to defend them. Since they are usually not very bright, or are bright enough to know that they'd better avoid the arena of fact and argument, they'll turn to misrepresentation, vilification, and other devices that are available to those who know that they'll be protected by the various means available to the powerful. We should understand why all this occurs, and unravel it as best we can. That's part of the project of liberation - of ourselves and others, or more reasonably, of people working together to achieve these aims.

    Sounds simple-minded, and it is. But I have yet to find much commentary on human life and society that is not simple-minded, when absurdity and self-serving posturing are cleared away.

So enough of my current rants and conditions... How do you fix this? Does the web help? What else is needed?

Published: June 23, 2006 by Aaron Wall in marketing


June 23, 2006 - 9:36am

Intersting post Aaron
I watched, then read MANUFACTURING CONSENT some years back, kinda eye opening in a 'wow, how feckin obvious, now I know why I didn't get it sooner' kinda way.

The mellifluous subtleties of corporate power allow them to say, and people to actually buy, lines similar to 'hey, really, we are just gonna chop your head off, its nice and good for you and you won't feel a thing, trust us, we promise'.

But hey, maybe it isn't all as bad as it seems. Perhaps, people and our planet are more resilient then we give them/it credit. God forbid, the majority might actually like to live this way, its all they know after all, and lets face facts state capitalism was hardly a winner was it!

Those who run things today maybe aren't as 'bad' as programs like the one referenced shown seem to suggest. They don't rule without consent, as Chomsky suggests they may well create it, but its consent nonetheless, people buy into and accept it.

As for what is needed to change it, huge question of course but perhaps it might help to begin to ask ourselves what are the alternatives? How do we all wish to live? Maybe some of it is rooted in the rejection of the old moralistic attitudes borne out of religious observance. Can we really expect to go anywhere meaningful without a moral compass?

We dont have to be big uber consumers do we? We can choose to live more frugal conservative lives, buy green, eat less, etc blah, but most of us don't and why? Well, as Chomsky points out our media continually rams consumerist ideas down our throats! its almost inescapable, some of us even think we are immune, but we are not. And so it will continue too, it has to, its the nature of the capitalist beast, it needs to be fed at an avaricious rate, if it isn't it gets lean and mean and spiteful and vicious and everybody suffers.

I dont think the web will change things very much. if anything I think it will exacerbate existing problems. Developing countries will see the 'wealth' of 'opportun ities' 'enjoyed' by the developed nations and say 'i want that' then what? Yup, more production, more raping and pillaging of the worlds resources...or maybe it won't, maybe something mad or radical will happen that will enable a more inclusive, responsible, caring sharing world to happen.

Theres always hope I guess :)

June 23, 2006 - 5:53pm

An interesting article-- and I wonder how many people working in the SEO world have a similiar distaste for authority? I would suspect a large number of them.
If you enjoyed bonaroo-- you're next adventure really should be to Burning Man (.com)

Hope you get well soon.

June 23, 2006 - 7:33pm

Whatever you end up doing in pursuit in your passion, I selfishly hope you keep doing this. This is my one indispensable blog, the one I check several times a day for new posts, the one that gets the big picture that I can't always follow unless I've taken my Flintstone vitamins that day.

But the more I read the more I get the sense I'm almost Getting It, and that's a privilege.

June 23, 2006 - 10:05pm

Hi Aaron,

Here's hoping you get better fast. Strep and the flu aren't fun.

I just want to add a couple of notes to your corporate and media rant.

Once upon a time the MSM had a complete monopoly on the news. Today it doesn't and all its warts, distortions, biases, and manipulations are being exposed. The very poor quality of MSM reporting is also being exposed. As you said, they take a pre-packaged point of view and sell it to us as fresh news.

Naturally, the MSM hates this. As would anyone or any entity so exposed.

Mr. Chomsky has a few documented misrepresentations of his own. This makes his comments, above, even more interesting since I wonder which of them are the misrepresentations.

Regardless of which side you take (the war, consumerism, etc.) we always need to keep in mind that the opposition uses the same tactics. The greenies feed us lies about global warming, the corps feed us lies about how green they are, and so on. Well, let's be nice and say that all sides spin the available data to their point of view. Some more or less hysterically than others.

Will the web help? It can, but only if people can learn to find what they need to and to think critically. When I was in school "critical thinking" was taught as analysing a point or concept, comparing it to available facts, and seeing how it stands up.

Today it's just criticising the opposition, using whatever BS is available. Of course, that's been true of politics since politics was invented.

So yeah, I think the web can help, if you have good filters and now what to look for. If you don't then it's just like have the NY times as you only info source and you'll continue on being badly misinformed and not know it.

How do you fix the problems? I don't think you can. I think you have to teach people how to understand the problems and work with/around them.

Thanks for a great blog.


Jeff Forest
June 25, 2006 - 8:44am

> Sorry for all these cryptic rant posts

Dont be! these are some very thought-provoking, and interesting posts... I certainly appreciate the sharing and the thought that went into them!

Lack of purpose? Yeah, that happens to a lot of us a lot of the time... The only question is, what do you do about it. Have your own journey! Discover yourself... I hate to say "don't quit your day job" (cos sometimes that might not be the best way to go), but I leave that up to you...

What is needed? More honest, and real people, working together fight against the crap, that's what I say... Individual folks (unless they have a real source of always-renewable motivation) won't last long.

Here's to hoping you get well...

ps. rob's right about the developing nations, too, btw. But let's not stereotype everybody from these areas...

June 25, 2006 - 10:01pm

Aaron hope you are feeling better soon.

What worries me is that I remember being taught to 'read between the lines' and not take everything published as complete fact - my children aren't being taught that way (at school) and hence themselves are more open to 'manipulation'.

Lacking in purpose and belief in yourself? Pat yourself on the back my man! you have achieved alot in a short space of time.
Take a small breather, get well and decide what you want to do - you dont have to accept all the invites you get on your time you know!
Choose well and the force will come back to you seojedi :)

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