The legacy media destroyed journalism. Elon Musk will save it.

Cc
9 min readDec 30, 2022

--

Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

The legacy or corporate media, whichever you want to call it, has destroyed journalism. Elon Musk, I think, will save it or at least spearhead the evolution of the media as a whole. For me to share why I believe this, we need to go back in time to 2003 for a moment.

I was in my senior year of high school, and my English teacher had us write essays on what we wanted to do for a career. We had to choose two options. At the time, I was working full-time at one of the local casinos because my mother had lost her job and was struggling.

College and careers weren’t an option for me. However, I wrote about commercial art and journalism. I’d always been interested in writing and media, especially since Kysa Anderson (now Kysa Daniels) gave me a tour of the KSLA studios, where I got to watch her and the other anchors go on the air and broadcast a news segment live.

Commercial art was something else I was interested in. Back then, calligraphy and lettering were something I was extremely good at, along with mixed-media painting. This was before personal computers and graphic design.

Journalism was something that, at the time, I thought was noble. You go out there and report the truth. You share the stories of people, places, and events. You use your words to make an impact.

If something were happening, you’d turn on the TV and watch the news — the news was the trusted place for accurate information. That’s what many people in America still believe today. Yes, there are a lot of accurate news stories and factual reporting. However, journalism today isn’t what it used to be.

What Is Journalism?

Merriam-Webster has two key definitions of journalism, and they are:

  1. A: the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media. B. The public press. C. An academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium
  2. A. Writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine. B. Writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation. C. Writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

Various other definitions put forth by several websites and dictionaries online reflect similar views. The overall idea is that it involves sharing the news and newsworthy stories.

Today’s journalism isn't doing this anymore. Granted, you can still watch or read the news, but many articles and videos are biased. There are a variety of narratives being pushed, and some can be good, such as giving during the holidays or raising awareness about events that affect our livelihoods.

However, it’s gone too far. In many cases, today’s journalism violates its own code of ethics. The Society of Professional Journalists has a list of its code of ethics that it published in 2014, and many of today’s journalists disregard these four codes:

  • Seek the truth and report it.
  • Minimize harm.
  • Act Independently.
  • Be accountable and transparent.

The reason why it’s gone too far is that the media has turned into a machine that is dependent on clicks and your attention for its own survival. Your attention and time are the fuel the machine needs to operate. It takes that furl and transforms it into money.

The best way to gain your attention is through emotional manipulation and the corporate media does this while also influencing how consumers think, feel, and react to news stories.

Legacy media and Elon Musk

A key example can be found in the coverage of Elon Musk by many mainstream media outlets such as CNBC, CNN, The Associated Press, and others. Tech websites such as The Verge, Vox, and niche sites covering automotive have also done this.

Many mainstream media journalists hate Elon Musk, and that hatred bleeds into their articles. I will sometimes receive phone calls from friends who are not on Twitter and may catch part of a news video.

“Did you know Elon Musk is locking people up at Twitter and forcing them to live and work there?” one friend asked me. She was so angry that Elon Musk was tearing families apart. Once she calmed down, I was able to explain that not only was this false, but many tech companies offer sleeping areas for employees.

On the flip side, I support him and am very transparent about this in all of my articles. However, I, too, am biased. I admit this and will continue to openly support Elon because I believe he is a good person and is trying to help people.

In fact, it was Elon Musk who inspired me to become a journalist. I began writing right here on Medium with a focus on dispelling the misinformation that many news outlets spread about Tesla and Elon Musk. I wanted to share the truth and write the real stories that I was seeing on Twitter.

The media’s attacks on Elon Musk’s supporters began well before 2022…

For several years, Elon Musk’s fans have been labeled a cult. This is before his purchase of Twitter. I remember in 2018, someone from The Verge contacted me for an interview. The questions that were asked seemed innocent enough however when the article was published, I was grateful that my responses were not included.

One question was regarding how I viewed Elon Musk’s fans in general, to which I said, “As people. We are all individual people with our own dreams and goals. I’ve made friends with quite a few who are brilliantly talented.”

The article’s headline proved to be just another hit piece against Elon Musk. Titled,” The gospel of Elon Musk, according to his flock,” the article made a mockery out of those of us who supported Elon Musk. One point the author of the article made would have been debunked if my response had been included. He wrote:

“A fandom’s rabid fringe faction comes as a natural consequence of being in a group in the first place. While some CEOs maintain a Jobsian cult of personality and where celebrity fan attacks mostly consist of endless walls of snake emoji, Musk’s followers differ in their moral righteousness and emotional defensiveness. Musk’s fringe is different because the center is morally righteous, which means the outliers are even more fervent than other fandoms.”

Elon Musk, Twitter & the media’s reaction

When Elon Musk made the offer to purchase Twitter last year, he was ridiculed and shamed for talking about freedom of speech. Many in the media wrote articles likening him to former President Trump.

Democratic politicians such as Senator Sanders and Senator Warren would tweet to their followers about how Elon Musk was a billionaire who is profiting at the expense of the poor. Senator Warren even took out Facebook ad campaigns making false statements against Elon Musk while asking her supporters for money.

From April through October, the media made a mockery of Elon Musk and didn’t report on most of his interviews where he spoke of why he wanted to buy Twitter. The media was mostly silent on Twitter’s problem with child sexual exploitation, with the exception of that one Reuters report in September — that I saw.

It wasn’t until after Elon Musk took the acquisition and pledged to make removing child porn from Twitter the top priority that the media began reporting on the issue. And they didn’t really report correctly. Instead, articles claiming that Elon Musk fired the child safety staff were circulated.

Elon Musk and Ella Irwin, Twitter’s new trust and safety head, both addressed these claims in a recent Twitter Spaces interview that I cohosted with Eliza Bleu and Tara Bull.

Ella Irwin said: “I think maybe the strange thing about reading those reports is that Twitter slashed the child safety team a long time ago. I mean, as I said, when I joined, it was a skeleton crew. And far fewer people than you actually need to do this job effectively. Reading that that happened as a result of Twitter 2.0 is a little strange to read because, you know, as I’ve said, we’ve been fighting to get people for a while.”

She also said that they were planning on hiring more people and that Twitter would have more people working on child safety than it’s ever had before since she’d been working at Twitter.

Elon Musk also added his comments. He said:

“Well it would have been difficult to axe people that didn’t exist since we reallocated resources within the company. It basically, as you know, had almost no resources. We shifted allocations in the company so that there were resources on child exploitation that there weren’t before.”

He also called into question the trust people have in the media. The narrative the media is pushing in regard to Twitter and child safety is the opposite of what is currently happening at Twitter, he pointed out.

“As you know, you monitor it. It’s a gigantic improvement — what’s actually happened? So, I don’t know — it’s certianly not improving people’s trust in the media or shouldn’t because they are literally saying the exact opposite of what’s actually going on.”

“And I’ve been clear internaly over and over again that it is our top priority and actions speak louder than words. We’ve taken actions as you’ve outlined and we will continue to take actions. And we’ll do whatever it takes to address this issue.”

“And you know you have a direct line to me on this matter and so does Andrea and others. Twitter will be better than anyone else and hopefully set an example for how other social media networks should be operating.”

Strangely, The Washington Post chose to not only report on this but omit Ella’s statement and went with QAnon and right-wing as the themes of the article before leading into Eliza Bleu’s achievements. Clearly, this was a hit piece against both Elon and Eliza.

The media’s response to the Twitter Files is emotional at best

Since releasing the Twitter Files, which are documents showing how Twitter’s previous leadership censored many Americans on behalf of politicians and even government agencies, the mainstream media’s response has not been one of journalistic integrity.

I will give credit where it’s due, and there have been a few news organizations that reported on the Twitter Files, somewhat. But many articles are either slanted against Elon Musk or in favor of political agendas for both sides. Fox News, in my opinion, has done a fair job of reporting on the Twitter files than some of the other news sites, such as The Associated Press, seemed to take offense that Elon Musk chose independent journalists to release the Twitter Files.

CNN called it “theater” and admitted that “the establishment press” has “shown far less interest in the documents themselves, with most news organizations outright ignoring various entries in the continuing series.”

The article noted that the right-wing media sites reporting on the Twitter Files were doing so “because the mainstream press is made up of left-wing hacks who want to hide the truth from the public.”

This gives the impression to those reading the article who are politically left-leaning that the right-wing media sites aren’t to be trusted and, therefore, you shouldn’t trust the articles on the Twitter Files. Another CNN article wants Congress to subpoena Elon Musk and the entire Twitter Files.

Conclusion.

By purchasing Twitter, Elon Musk has done to the legacy media what he has done to the legacy automotive industry with Tesla and the space industry with SpaceX.

Elon’s empowerment of citizen journalism hints at what’s to come for legacy media. He’s been completely open about his support for citizen journalism, and I think this is beautiful. As a citizen journalist, I don’t need a degree to be viewed as good enough by my peers. In fact, it’s often thrown in my face that I’m not a real journalist because I was too poor to attend college.

Today, anyone with access to the internet can become a citizen journalist. And as Elon has told me before in my own podcast,

These days you can learn almost anything online. MIT, for example, has all of their lectures online and a number of other universities do. If you wanted to, you could learn almost anything for a very low cost just using a simple phone or an old tablet — a router box basically.”

“You’ve got access to all the world’s information. I think that this fact is really underappreciated and it’s something we should be I think pretty excited and optimistic about or feel good about which is that information before the internet was very limited.”

I think Elon will turn Twitter into a platform where citizen journalism will thrive. Citizen journalism, Elon said, is an “incredibly powerful and a new thing that we want to encourage as much as possible. That’s why we want to have long-form tweets, and so you can actually write something in-depth and figure out ways to get high-quality reporting on whatever the matter is surfaced so people can actually see it.”

This is how Elon Musk will save what was destroyed by legacy media in the name of clicks. This is how he will save journalism.

--

--