Discover more from Racket News
Note to Subscribers
A few frosty observations, and a question
I recently received, for the first time, a questionnaire from an “anti-disinformation” firm that rates trustworthiness of media outlets as a commercial service. As Racket is not advertiser-supported, my initial instinct was to non-answer, but such services at least theoretically now have many ways to impact even a Substack business, whose newsletter format is designed to be resistant to such digital pressure. We’re entering a new world and I wanted to share a few frosty observations on this front before posing a question to Racket subscribers.
Algorithmic blanketing of independent media is reaching levels unimaginable even a year ago. Obviously the decision by Twitter/X to depress Substack links is a big factor for those on this platform, but the story’s not much different elsewhere. Subscription-based content was an effective hack of the censorship loop for a time, but new deamplification tools reduce visibility to the point where effective marketing has become difficult even if you can afford to pay for it. I would be less irritated by this had I not spent much of the last eight months seeing academic researchers and legacy news organizations snitch out alternative media to platform censors, both in Twitter emails and some recent FOIA results (another reason I’m in a bad mood today).
They’re doing this while larger corporate outlets that according to “anti-disinformation” trackers score highest for trustworthy practice are tossing out standards. The New York Times since eliminating its public editor has lacked basic accountability mechanisms, leaves even infamous oopsies unadorned by editor’s notes (here’s one of Judith Miller’s worst WMD goofs flying free), and routinely publishes whole articles about topics or events without linking to source material, as “contextualizing” in place of allowing audiences to judge for themselves becomes standard. Leaving news stories mostly or totally uncovered if they feature inconvenient narratives is similarly a norm. Washington Post coverage of the Missouri v. Biden Internet censorship case has been thin to the point of being amusing:
Meanwhile, in what might be a double or triple-irony, platforms like Google that score papers like the Post high for “authority” plant warning flags on sites like mine for, no kidding, editorial commentary about Orwellian practice:
This is in addition to the litany of preposterous warning categories (“adult content,” “unsafe content”) and economic sanctions (like the recent hold on a Grayzone fundraiser) that have been cooked up to apply almost exclusively to non-legacy outlets and individual users. This entire system is also corrupted by the fact that many of the larger news companies that benefit from de-ranking of independents either partner with or subsidize review organizations.
This site, now called Racket, has always had great subscriber support, and my idea of how to help alternative voices — which I always thought was part of the point of such ventures — has been to reinvest in new contributors. However I now realize that’s not enough, so if subscribers are okay with it, I’d like going forward to use this space to promote worthwhile new stories, shows, document releases and so on by Substack contributors especially (but any independent outlet overall). Likely this would come in the form of Q&As with authors, maybe even live video interviews.
I’d of course promise not to overdo it, but would like to get in the habit. As site subscribers are the boss, I wanted to check before extending such a standing offer to other writers, so comments are welcome. In the meantime, thanks as always for your support, hug a thought criminal if you happen to run into one, and have a good weekend…