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[For an audio/vlog version of this story, click here.]

‘There is only one thing worse in the world than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.’

Chasing the media dragon: The raison d'être

Media man? Mediocre man?

That’s one of Oscar Wilde’s many maxims. Most of us do, of course, prefer to be known than not known. To be a somebody rather than a nobody.

This has its ebbs and flows* though. Sometimes we wish the whole world knew what we were up to while on other occasions we’d prefer to be anonymous.

Nonetheless, the desire to be a somebody usually dominates, particularly for those of us still on the make. This is even more so for those whose way of earning a living is all about engaging with the masses — the more, the merrier. Or, better put, with greater reach comes the possibility of greater recognition and, perhaps, greater riches.

In today’s technology-rich, highly interconnected world obtaining a greater reach, getting oneself known, has never been easier to attempt. Anyone with even just basic computer/internet knowledge can give it a go in a matter of minutes. Artificial intelligence is making this even easier. The challenge is in finding a winning way of going from zero to hero; hero in terms of desired reach, that is.

Yet, the technology and global interconnectedness helps are also hindrances. Because mostly anyone can get themselves out there, the result is a crowded and noisy virtual space. So getting seen and heard is difficult.

Added to this is the fact that we are creatures of habit. It generally takes considerable effort to get people to buy into a new alternative if the benefits of doing so aren’t immediately obvious.

Established power
In the media sphere, the one that I find most alluring, some content creators can go viral, propelling a nobody to a somebody in no time at all. Some of those have staying power. Others become forgotten about as quickly as they became known about. One-hit wonders, as it goes.

When it comes to current affairs media, traditional outlets have, on the whole, held their own in this we-can-all-be-journalists age. Money, of course, still talks. Having deep-ish pockets allows the bigger players to stay in the game for much longer and ensure their content takes precedence over that of others.

Also at play is the fact that many believe what they hear and read when it comes from a recognised, official/traditional source. An independent blogger or podcaster can’t be trusted as much as the establishment or a long-standing media group with many employees.

My view is that it’s better to be sceptical of all until unequivocally proven otherwise. Thus, one should always be sceptical!

I say all this as, in case you weren’t aware, a current blogger and lapsed podcaster. I have skin in the game.

And while I can’t speak for all independent bloggers/podcasters, I believe most who go down such a path hope to get some financial reward from it, whether directly or indirectly.

In terms of *directly*, I still have misplaced hopes that Google AdSense will come good for me after all these years of using the service. (I’m still, um, reeling, from that absurd six-year suspension. If I hadn’t lost that time I may have reached AdSense’s 70-euro payment threshold by now.)

‘What is the point of blogging if views are paltry and there appears to be no real benefit to it anymore?’

Revenue from automatically created ads aside, I became an independent content creator seeing it as a means to an end, that it would be an indirect route to some financial reward. This and the idea that it would keep my name out there after leaving full-time paid work in already-established media.

To a certain extent, it has served this purpose. Whether or not it is still a net benefit to me in this regard is open to debate.

As alluded to earlier, independent content creation, particularly that which focuses on current affairs/opinion, is struggling to stay relevant in the war on fake news/misinformation.

If one’s source is a blog, even if the information is true, the instant reaction by many is to rubbish it. If it hasn’t been given the seal of approval by the BBC Verify team or the equivalent, then it can’t be trusted. Remember, you can always trust organisations such as the BBC, even when they present opinions as undisputed facts. (If you’ve made it this far with this not-to-be-trusted content, I’ll refer you to my 2023 piece, Living with unsettled and unsettling questions.)

So bloggers who by now aren’t already well established can forget about ever making it. Unless, that is, they tap into a niche market that has money-making potential. The same goes for podcasters. If we reached peak blogging about ten years ago, we’re surely at peak podcasting now. If you’re an independent podcaster who hasn’t yet returned a profit, you’re as well to forget about those dreams of avarice.

OK, money motivates but it’s not always the main driver. If it were, I would have stopped writing this blog years ago.

One, however, still gets a brief high off the hits, infrequent as they are. The randomness of these hits still baffles me, too. ‘Why did this blog story get more views than that one?’ Whatever the reason, while overall views of my Google blog have actually shown an increase, views on individual stories have decreased considerably over the last couple of years or so.

So it does beg the question, ‘What’s the point?’ Wouldn’t I be better off focusing my efforts on some decently paid job rather than wasting time writing blogs? The simple answer is yes.

OK, a paid job and continuing to blog aren’t mutually exclusive. I can do and have done both.

But, again, what is the point of blogging if views are paltry and there appears to be no real benefit to it anymore?

Slaying the dragon
Well, there is a cathartic element to writing. And even if my reach is minuscule, somebody might relate to and/or get something out of the odd entry I publish.

There’s also the feeling of still being a somebody, a free-thinking somebody at that. Blogging, plus the occasional letter to the editor, gives me the platform to express myself, even if next to nobody is taking notice.

Now, if I were to take my thespian talents to the next level, becoming something of a star — but one with a modest carbon footprint, of course — blogging would become surplus to requirements. I would have found an alternative ego-boosting dragon, if only fleetingly — the boost from it doesn’t last long.

And then we’re back to ‘What’s the point?’ Why concern myself with trying to be a media man, be that media of the new, social or traditional kind, or allow myself to be lured by the siren call of a super extra?

The answer? Well, when the media dragon has appeared to be almost completely out of reach, it’s at such times I’ve felt the least enthused about my circumstances.

Perhaps what’s needed is one final fling that will allow me to slay this dragon once and for all.

Then, a life of relative solitude, away from the media madness, content as a nobody.
Listen to The Corrigan Cast podcast here.

Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan — The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz”.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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