The Media is full of shit (but you don’t have to be)

12 Aug

But we all already know that right?

I just finished reading Ryan Holiday‘s book – Trust me, I’m Lying. In some ways, it reminded me of the things I used to do in the early 2000s when it came to MMOs, but that’s for another day.

The book was basically two books in one – Book 1 covering how to manipulate the media, and then Book 2 covering what a shit show the media is.

The entire thing is depressing. But it’s also a great read because it doesn’t mince words. It doesn’t pretend that online media is a noble cause out there to get the truth out to the masses. That it’s about responsibility. That it self-corrects. Because let’s be honest: it isn’t.

I’ve said for a decade that the media is neither good, nor bad. It is neither Left nor Right. It answers to one god: Sensationalism. Which leads to traffic. Which leads to revenue. There’s a reason why crazies who say stuff like “if you were on a ketogenic diet you would never get cancer” – because it follows the equation: Sensationalism -> Traffic -> Revenue.

Rinse and repeat.

I remember how 8 years ago a story hit the Internet – “Muslim community offended by Apple NYC Cube’s similarity to Holy Kaaba.” It spread like wildfire across the tech community and the Right Wing blogosphere. It was originally unsourced, until it was revealed that the “source” was some random post on a forum. The “one unverified idiot on forum” morphed into “Muslim community” in 60s flat. And when we reached out to some of the bloggers who had breathlessly reported on this story, we were met with outright hostility. I remember one even said “well the Muslim community should reach out to me then.” Why the hell is the “reporter” not double-checking his own work (an issue Ryan constantly harps in his book)?!?!

I won’t even get into the comments (another thing Ryan touches on) and how it just fanned anti-Muslim hysteria. And how not a single blogger bothered to update it. Well, one did change the headline from “Muslim community offended by Apple’s Fifth Avenue NYC Cube” to “Muslim community offended by Apple’s Fifth Avenue NYC Cube?” – that’s some quality investigative journalism.

Get the book – it’s a great read. I even told my friend Lou Schuler (tangent: Lou is such a big deal he has his own Wikipedia page) to get it. And Ryan doesn’t talk in abstracts – he calls out specific people. His call outs on Arrington of TechCrunch made me laugh because I remember thinking the same things back in the day (I wonder if Ryan knew that Arrington originally made it big via domains – he was CEO of – which made his raging hypocrisy against domainers even more laughable).

But you don’t have to be (full of shit)

The book spoke to me. I’ve turned down a dozen plus VCs because I have no interest in chasing (or trying to become) the next big thing. I have no desire for the endless cycle of exposure. After my experience 8 years ago with the bogus Apple store, I basically stopped trying to do anything “news” worthy.

Ryan captures my views:

Meanwhile, smaller sites that have built core audiences on trust and loyalty sell out their ad space months in advance. They have less total inventory, but they sell all of theirs at higher prices and are more profitable, sustainable businesses. will never be as big, say, Our team will never be as famous as Dr. Oz. BUT – we will be profitable and sustainable.

Which is all I care about anyway (that, and long relaxed walks with my doggy).

4 Responses to The Media is full of shit (but you don’t have to be)


Louise Blais

August 12th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Great post Sol. This resonated with me on many levels. I have been approached so many times to compromise my integrity to solicit revenue and my soul will just not allow it. I walk away feeling like I am just getting too old for the health and fitness industry…but then I read something like this and I feel rejuvenated. Refusing to compromise my integrity doesn’t make me old (although I may have a year or two on you) and it certainly doesn’t make me rich…but it makes me a better sleeper at night.



August 12th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

1) I just added this to my reading list recently!

2)” will never be as big, say, Our team will never be as famous as Dr. Oz. BUT – we will be profitable and sustainable.”

Well with THAT kind of attitude, of course you won’t!



August 12th, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Great to read this. I know I speak for many when I say that what you and your team are doing on examine is appreciated by many. The health and fitness industry can be one of the filthiest around, and it’s refreshing to come across a group of people with genuine intentions.


Damian Minichowski

August 13th, 2014 at 4:53 am

Thanks Sol, I might as well give it a try with the book. I don’t know if the beans you spill here are new to me. Everybody talks about the media being full of shit, but somehow you have to stay informed (one way or another). It is good to know that not all of the good guys sell-out.

Keep up the good work, man, keep it up!