Much akin to the Guttenberg revolution, the effects of democratisation of creating and partaking content remain near the same; the official narrative suffers. When the steady erosion of the Cathedral’s power reaches its zenith, they whom the Cathedral deems to rule over will vote with their eyeballs and the behemoth upon whose back it was built, once such a powerful tool in their hands, crushing opposition and ensuring dominion, bucks underneath them, leaving the faithful and priestly classes alike falling into a harsh and unfamiliar realm.
What is this Cathedral, and whom are the once anointed now laying in foreign dust, their shiny trinkets adorned in the filth of the peasants? The Cathedral is a political, social and economic union, a concentration of powers across all three. The seemingly inevitable outcome of the corporatisation of media and the reaching of corporate tendrils into social and political life through various forms of funding or other gifts in kind. The now dusty rider can often be denoted by the prized Blue Check should one wade the human mind gutter of Twitter; they are in the club and gain the favour of those in the Cathedral who wield considerable resources and influence.
Recently MyBroadBand announced that “South Africa’s most popular technology talk show, What’s Next with Aki Anastasiou, has exceeded 2 million views.” And, while I wish no ill will upon Aki nor his channel, and while racking up 2 million views is no mean feat, one would expect far better performance. Hosted by an incredibly accomplished media personality, a show with some of the essential Chief Executives in South African ICT and financial sectors, partnering with MyBroadband, as well as real heavy hitters such as Microsoft and Sage, expectations would be a tad higher.
Aki’s newer channel NxtUp Online bills itself as ‘SA’s leading channel for all the latest news about technology, business & lifestyle’; however, the veracity of this claim aside, the channel has been unsuccessful in capturing anything close to the impressive opening run of What’s Next which ” racked up half a million views in the first two months”. At first glance, a far less TV 2.0 version, it draws heavily on the early online/ missing link media attempts at authenticity; however, as much as Aki comes across as a nice enough guy, he still comes across as a corporate shill, a celebrity and very much a member of the Cathedral. This way, hoisted by its own petard, the inauthenticity is brought into stark focus, helped along in no small measure to the high levels of production quality.
In many ways, this reminds me of another highly successful and prominent in certain circles, media personality, thinker and journalist Verashni Pillay, founder of the ExplainZA channel, itself billed as “news summaries or busy people”. Despite modest yet respectable early videos, this attempt at the aforementioned missing link style media has failed to amount to much since its May 2019 debut and suffers from the same authenticity paradox as NxtUp Online. In a similar manner to What’s Next, ExplainZA has impressive backing from agencies and organisations who are in turn backed by Multinational Foundations and rather than Corporations, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Societies Foundation and the like.
The following are a set of statistics to hopefully put this all into context, using the Morning Shot comparatively to glean some insights and analysis of the situation. MyBroadband runs What’s Next on their Youtube channel. As such, I will adjust the statistics accordingly.
|What’s Next||71||5.6k||2,15 million||June 2020|
|NxtUp Online||19||305||5264||Feb 2021|
|Morning Shot||737||30.3k||5,7 million||Jan 2020|
There are some clear distinctions to be made from these numbers. The videos output for Morning Shot, the Subscribers earned, and the View count dwarfs the other channels. I believe there are at least three factors beyond authenticity at play: Niche marketing on behalf of Aki’s channels, the rewards of producing constant and consistent content, and most importantly, how that content is presented.
With the first three channels, the content comes off as a product, shined within an inch of its life, sleek, professional, with the money and expertise to back it up, including professional-level equipment and teams. Every bit of the corporate television nature which the media wing of the Cathedral has crafted over the years, except this is YouTube. On this site, people get a break from the glitz and glam and seek a fraction of reality.
Morning Shot and many like it come across more as a service, not already bought and paid for by monied interests, a “daily jolt of news analysis”, not from a funded enterprise, but a homegrown endeavour, able to speak free of such financial entanglements and often give better and more useful analysis than the celebrated and successful counterparts the authenticity to be gained from such is overwhelming in comparison.
And therein lies the rub; the mainstream, legacy media and the missing link media, built on the same foundations, is feeling the tremors of the paradigm shift all too late.
The corporate ties like steel girders that once gave them strength and stability will be the chains that pull them down when the dinosaur of legacy media, already dead on its feet, crashes into the abyss.