The rise of online contrarians on Substack exposes a dysfunctional media ecosystem
Agreed but doesn’t address the painful reason why so many migrate to independent publishers. Most reluctantly leave mainstream houses due to corporate driven or ideological censorship. It is a huge financial risk to go independent. If some manage to monetize dissent for good or bad reasons, it shows a democratic impulse that can seriously challenge corporate/government driven narratives. A controlled narrative is a dangerous one so I support the independents.
I recently read that 'leftist' warriors are pressuring Substack to cancel some of its independent accounts because they aren't woke enough. Persuasion should address this directly.
"While contrarians create spaces for dissent from orthodoxy, their presence becomes a means to affirm in-group orthodoxy. In this sense, the rise of the contrarian is more symptomatic of problems afflicting the media than a solution to them."
I'm not sure that I'd limit this to the problems afflicting the media (unless "media" is inclusive of the Internet in general). I think the problem afflicting the media is a reflection of a society that can fairly easily cast out its detractors, as well as a society in which detractors find it relatively easy to find and create their own (smaller) in-group in a separate locus with their own orthodoxies. Ideas are at their best when they must adjust themselves to address weaknesses raised by conflicts and dissents. Creating a series of disparate orthodoxies which rarely have good faith interaction breeds arrogance, ossification, stagnation, and valueless conflict where ideas do not change each other.
Separately, I dislike the word contrarian here, because it suggests someone who is simply anti-whatever-is-orthodox, when there are various reasons to dissent beyond an impulse to rebel against an established idea; I prefer "dissenters" or something of that ilk.
I wonder if the rise in platforms on Substack parallels the exodus of voters leaving both R and D parties? And will the main stream medias take notice anymore then the party heads?
I enjoyed the article and appreciate the topics that are discussed on such platforms.
Back in my day, we called it "performance art." That is, when we weren't calling it "info-tainment."
No matter the label, contrarianism has always been the currency of the attention economy. It always will be. How much you charge to see the show is whatever the market will bear.
The key to succeeding at it? Broadly gesture with one hand, while putting the thumb of your other hand on the scale of the marketplace of ideas.