Monday 17 May 2021

Solving the Global Communication Crisis

Prior to reading: The following article references material included in other books. Check out for a list of all books. It may be helpful to read Escape From Earth (though it is not necessary). The remaining material presented in this blog has been edited and condensed in the book, Minutes to Martian Midnight.

This article was originally written as a white paper and it is best viewed in that format. For a free copy of this white paper, or for any questions regarding the concepts explored, email:


Executive Summary

This white paper presents a global crisis that has been ongoing for years. The crisis has not been resolved due to a misunderstanding of a business term, resulting in the academic world trivializing the severity of the crisis. The misunderstood business term is ‘Christensen’s Theory of Business Disruption.’ This Disruption started in 2003 when social media started to replace news media as the general public’s main source of information on current events. In 2021, news media has effectively transformed into social media. The Disruption of news media has resulted in misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories, particularly regarding global crises.

Prior to 1991, news media utilized one-way communication systems. The Disruption of news media could have been avoided if news media did not transition from one-way communication systems to two-way communication systems. This paper explains this concept in more detail and provides a solution to the communication crisis in journalism. If the solution presented in this paper is implemented, it solves the crisis in journalism, increases public trust, and ensures that journalists are not underfunded, short-staffed, or under-compensated. By separating the two entities, news media and social media, it also decreases the censorship of speech that is occurring on both platforms.

Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary
II. Table of Contents
III. Clayton Christensen’s Theory of Business Disruption
IV. The Disruptive Fall of Journalism
V. Compromised Global Communication
VI.One-way and Two-way Communication Systems
VII. A Stratagem for the Crisis in Journalism
VIII. References

Table of Figures

Figure 1. Christensen’s Disruption
Figure 2. Disruption of News Media by Social Media
Figure 3. ‘Noise’ in Communication Channels
Figure 4. The Telephone Game

Clayton Christensen’s
Theory of Business Disruption

Clayton Christensen explores the business term ‘Disruption’ in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Christensen’s Disruption pertains to an innovative technology that begins as a non-competitor in the market it eventually disrupts. Christensen’s Theory of Business Disruption is applicable to many industries, including journalism, healthcare, education, and in the following case, video rental.

When Netflix’s streaming service was first released in 2007, it was not in direct competition with rental video businesses since access to the same type of media was mostly non-existent. Netflix was primarily offering dated or obscure content. Netflix’s initial market was customers that were not too discriminatory with their choice of content. As the service gained more popularity, Netflix offered more mainstream content, which moved it into the same market as rental video businesses like Blockbuster Video. At this point, streaming services Disrupted the rental video industry due to the many advantages offered by a streaming service over a rental service.

Figure 1. Christensen’s Disruption

Blockbuster Video was a retail chain that rented movies and video games, and a significant portion of its profits stemmed from late fees. When Netflix entered the movie rental business, it did not need to rely on late fees as a source of profits since it had fewer expenses than retail stores. Netflix allowed customers to rent DVDs via mail service.

Had Netflix not entered the streaming services industry, then its business model would not have Disrupted the movie rental business. At this point, Netflix was transitionally disrupting video rental companies like Blockbuster Video since both were competing for the same market: people that wanted to rent physical copies of movies.

If Netflix had continued to solely focus on the rental DVD market, then Blockbuster could have continued to compete in that market, since it had already copied the model. However, Netflix pursued a new emerging technological innovation: streaming services.

While Blockbuster Video also pursued streaming services, there is an important distinction to make regarding Christensen’s Disruption. Blockbuster was pursuing the mainstream market, which was the same market as those currently renting videos. However, the streaming component of Netflix’s overall strategy was not initially targeting the rental market, it was targeting a brand-new market: Those that simply wanted something to watch but were not too picky what they were watching. Most of the movies and TV shows Netflix held rights to stream were quite old or obscure. It would not have been profitable if Netflix had initially tried to target new and popular movies and TV shows like it did later, when it held a much larger market share.

As Netflix gained more customers in this new market, it now became profitable to stream the same types of new movies and TV shows that rental businesses like Blockbuster Video offered. Video rental and streaming services were now offering the same content, and the rental market was Disrupted due to the clear advantages of streaming services over video rental:

-No late fees
-Lower costs (No need for physical stores, clerks, inventory, etc.).
-Binge watching
-More viewing options than any single retail store could offer
-Convenience of not needing to leave the house

In this case, the introduction of a disruptive technology, streaming services, bankrupted a billion-dollar industry shortly after the technology was introduced. Disruption is obvious in retrospect, but difficult to perceive while it is occurring. A more detailed explanation of Christensen’s Theory of Business Disruption can be read in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma.”

Any industry experiencing Christensen’s Disruption results in the same thing that happened to the rental video industry. The previous industry is destroyed. This fundamental concept behind Christensen’s Theory of Business Disruption has been misunderstood in the academic world.

In 2012, Clayton Christensen confirmed that News Media was being Disrupted by Social Media (Allworth, 2012). The ongoing misinformation and disinformation that has been increasing in news stories over the last several years was predictable and avoidable.

The following explores the Disruption of News Media by Social media, and how this Disruption has resulted in the ‘Fall of Journalism.’

The Disruptive Fall of Journalism

21 July 2020

In the world of 2020, objective truth has become a distant memory. News stories are often intentionally polarizing to evoke strong emotions from viewers and capitalize on market share. Exaggerations, half-truths, click-bait, and other manipulative tactics are rampant throughout both conservative and liberal news outlets. The source of this problem can be traced back to the ‘Fall of Journalism,’ or ‘Disruption of Journalism,’ that started at the turn of the century. This essay explores this issue by analyzing the story from academic articles and news articles, with a particular focus on how each author(s) defines journalism and Disruption. It is concluded that while some author(s) better define the terms, all appear to trivialize the significance of what the Fall of Journalism represents.

During the ongoing global pandemic this year, the story changes dramatically from news source to news source. Since the start of the year, some sources stated that the world was overreacting, while others stated that the world was under-reacting. Regardless of the reality, the existence of these two separate perceptions is indicative of a global communication problem. When this occurs, misinformation and conspiracy theories increase in frequency and severity, much has occurred on COVID-19 (Ball & Maxmen, 2020, para. 4). This communication problem has resulted in global economic devastation that has left many businesses bankrupt (Toneguzzi, 2020, para. 1), which is a common consequence anytime an industry, journalism in this case, undergoes Disruption.

Disruption is a business theory that was popularized by Clayton Christensen in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma. Christensen defines Disruption as how a new technology, concept or strategy starts out as a non-competitor in the market it eventually disrupts (Allworth, Christensen, & Skok, 2012, para. 9). A rather famous example is how the streaming service, Netflix, Disrupted the video rental industry resulting in bankruptcies of companies like Blockbuster Video (Satell, 2014, para. 2). In his article, Breaking News, Christensen applies his Theory of Disruption to the field of journalism and presents various strategies for news businesses to avoid similar outcomes as what happened to Blockbuster (Allworth et. al., 2012, para. 90-107).

Breaking News is co-authored by David Skok and James Allworth and it is presented in a neutral tone and language. The authors present their argument well by using historically known examples of Disruption to explain what is occurring in journalism.

Figure 2. Disruption of News Media by Social Media

By clearly defining the Fall of Journalism as a classic case of Disruption, the authors alter the significance of the problem. Kent Lewis outlines in his book Word and World how different definitions can drastically alter what they seek to define (Lewis, 2008, pp. 71-75). By clearly stating that the field of journalism is in a state of classic business Disruption, Christensen and his co-authors make it clear that the consequences to journalism will follow the same trend as other Disrupted industries like video rental. However, the article appears to trivialize the consequences, or it would explore communication issues, such as misinformation, that can occur when the ‘truth’ journalists are supposed to convey is heavily Disrupted. Further evidence of the state of Disruption in journalism is explored next.

Alex Williams interned at the Pew Research Center (Williams, 2017, p. 4732) and shares the results of his journalism findings in his article Measuring the Journalism Crisis: Developing New Approaches that Help the Public Connect to the Issue. In it, Williams defines journalism as being in a crisis, and does not appear to be aware that the crisis is caused from the ongoing Disruption. Although Williams (2017) states that there are known problems of “misinformation and sensational news articles” (p. 4732) in journalism, his article also appears to trivialize the Fall of Journalism. This is made evident when Williams (2017) explains that job losses in journalism amount to 40% in 8 years (4731), and he does so with a lack of connotative language, which would help “manipulate…the perceptions of the audience” (Lewis, 2008, p. 37).

The need for this emotional manipulation becomes necessary when one considers the ramifications of a 40% job loss in under a decade in a professional field. Imagine the associated increased crime and disorder if this 40% job loss occurred in the field of police, or the infrastructure problems resulting from a 40% loss of city construction workers. What if 40% of nurses were laid off in 8 short years, what would one expect the consequences of that to look like? When journalism is Disrupted, the resulting consequences involve some news outlets mislabeling countries on world maps (Zhou, 2019, para. 1). While it appears Alex Williams and the other authors in this essay appear to explore the issue of the Fall of Journalism as mere curiosity, the significance of a 40% job loss in a professional field cannot be understated.

The article Journalism in Crisis? by John Russial, Peter Laufer, and Janet Wasko is primarily focused on defining journalism to determine whether it is indeed in crisis. The article shares many of the same insights as Kent Lewis does on media (Lewis, 2008, pp. 267 - 278). Overall, the article offers a neutral tone with the occasional use of connotative language such as when it references Aldous Huxley’s dystopia novel Brave New World (Laufer et. al., 2015, p. 305). While the article does an effective job of defining journalism, it also trivializes the crisis by not really answering its own question other than stating that journalism is in crisis at the end of the article (Laufer et. al., 2015, p. 310). As well, while it appears that Laufer et. al. (2015) intuitively are aware that the crisis is being caused by Disruption, such as when they mention bloggers and start-ups altering the journalism model (p. 305), they never define it as Disruption, nor reference Clayton Christensen’s work on the subject.

Conversely, Jill Lepore is familiar with Christensen’s definition of Disruption and argues against its validity in her article The Disruption Machine. In it, Lepore provides examples of failed ‘disruptors’ such as Morisson-Knudsen’s failures with MK Transit and MK Rail and Time Inc.’s failure with the new media venture, Pathfinder (Lepore, 2014, para. 27). This illustrates Lepore’s misunderstanding of the definition of Disruption since, based on the brief evidence provided, both of her examples are great examples of failed strategic management and not examples of ‘failed Disruption.’

Lepore then goes on to state that journalism cannot be Disrupted since “it’s not an industry in that sense” (Lepore, 2014, para. 30) and that “the press has generally supported itself by charging subscribers and selling advertising” (para. 31). In this case, it appears Lepore has difficulty defining journalism as a business or a public service. However, as mentioned earlier, job losses were almost cut by half in under a decade which would strongly indicate that journalism is subject to the same challenges that can occur in business organizations, which includes Disruption. Overall, it appears Lepore (2014) has a strong bias towards being one of the sole critics of a widely accepted business concept, made evident when she states as much at the start of her article (para. 9).

Adhering to the theme presented within this essay, the article The Future of Journalism begins by exploring the Disruption occurring within the field of journalism (Allan, Carter, Cushion, Dencik, Garcia-Blanko, Harris, Sambrook, Wahl-Jorgensen, & Williams, 2016, p. 801), but then dismisses the idea it represents. Once again, Clayton Christensen and his work on Disruption are not referenced suggesting that the authors either felt it unnecessary to credit his work or are unaware of his work. If the latter is the reason, it calls into question the thoroughness of the research performed by nine separate academics when the author of this paper performed mere cursory research to complete this paper.

One questions at which point the state of the current crisis in journalism moves from ‘mere curiosity’ in academia to one that is made known to the general public so that the problem can be corrected. Allan et. al. (2016) appear aware of the potential severity of the problem when they state that the current Disruption threatens journalists, businesses, and the public (p. 801). However, the language and focus of research indicating this style of global threat should do more to highlight these potential consequences, should they not? Instead, about a third of The Future of Journalism explores opportunities that can be exploited, rather than attempting to raise awareness of the crisis. Once again, this is indicative of a complete lack of understanding on the definition of Disruption. It also presents another example of the nuances posed when defining the role of journalism in a constantly changing world.

In chapter seven of Word and World, Kent Lewis suggests that journalists turned the 2003 SARS epidemic into “a media event” (Lewis, 2008, p. 269). This makes one wonder if Lewis would say the same thing about COVID-19. After all, there is research suggesting that COVID-19’s death rate is lower than SARS (Ries, 2020, para. 14). In this case, it appears Lewis misunderstands the definition of exponential growth and how this relates to epidemics. Prior to the Disruption of journalism in 2003, the story of SARS was successfully communicated, and the epidemic was largely contained with 495 global deaths (Lewis, 2008, p. 269). Seventeen short years later, the next outbreak was poorly communicated by a field of professionals severely impacted by Disruption, and the world is getting a glimpse of what SARS could have looked like if it happened today.

The last article to be examined in this essay is an article by Margaret Simons called Journalism faces a crisis worldwide - we might be entering a new dark age. As should come as no surprise by now, Christensen’s Disruption is not referenced in this article, even though Simons discusses many points of the Disruption, such as how the ad revenue model has dramatically changed when she states that 90% of all ad revenue in the western world is generated by Google and Facebook (Simons, 2017, para. 11). Ironically, Simon’s connotative use of ‘dark age’ in her title is the exact type of click-bait journalism that is predicted by Christensen’s Disruption model. Although the author of this paper thinks ‘dark age’ is a rather apt term to use now that social distancing and surgical facemasks have become the new normal in 2020.

In this paper, six separate articles exploring the ongoing crisis in journalism were examined. It was decided that while academics and journalists do appear to realize that journalism is in crisis, the method they employ to define the problem and its consequences trivialize the significance of the issue. In the past, governments and businesses have often been accused of disrupting the truth to produce their own version of reality for their own gain, however, this always occurred on a nation-wide scale. The question the reader should ask themselves is what exactly happens when the truth is disrupted on a global scale while academics, for the most part, have no idea of the significance this represents and the magnitude of the potential consequences? Every single news outlet, conservative and liberal, is severely affected by the Disruptive Fall of Journalism. If Huxley and Orwell were alive today, they would probably give the smuggest ‘I told you so’ in history. Our world has sacrificed academic integrity and objective truth for emotional validation on social media outlets and polarizing entertainment in journalism.

Fake news, anyone?

Compromised Global Communication

Journalism is near the end of a ‘Disruption’ that started in the early 2000’s as social media exploded in popularity. This altered the ad revenue business model that news outlets heavily relied on, resulting in less funds to hire writing and editing staff. This problem is compounded by a saturation of news outlets (both liberal and conservative) now compete for market share during the period of globalization. Many outlets have resorted to reporting on click-bait and other sensationalized stories, resulting in general distrust of journalism.

This compromised communication results in many problems. The worse of which is an inability to effectively manage global crises. Anytime a crisis occurs, every news outlet is focused on market share rather than focused on communicating one single consistent message. This creates general confusion and distrust in the public, with some challenging the existence of the crisis itself. This has occurred during the COVID-19 crisis and has been occurring on the Sustainability Crisis for many years.

To clarify, this is not a comment on the existence or severity of crises like COVID-19 or sustainability. Compromised communication makes it impossible to discern what information is accurate, unbiased, and complete.

The severity of this problem becomes better understood when one considers the role journalism currently plays in the world of 2021; Journalism is the main intermediary of information.

Where do you, the reader, get your news from?

Chances are it is from one of 3 sources:

-various news media (both liberal and conservative outlets)
-social media (which is mainly re-posted stories from news media)
-some form of aggregated news source like Google News (The original source is still news media)

The average person still relies on journalism to inform them of current events, which includes global crises. And since journalism is undergoing Disruption, it means that the information the average person is receiving regarding current events is incorrect.

Ask any soldier how important effective communication is on the battlefield. If you knock out an enemy’s ability to communicate, you blind them.

Global civilization is currently blind. Any global crisis cannot be effectively communicated nor managed. The next section discusses the technical aspects of the Disruption of Journalism. The technology behind Netflix’s Disruption was the Internet - the same communication system that has allowed social media to Disrupt news media.

One-way and Two-way
Communication Systems

This section explains how a Disruptive technology was the source of the Crisis in Journalism. Prior to the Internet, news media utilized solely one-way communication channels. Mass communication, like journalism, should utilize one-way communication channels. When mass communication is diffused on two-way communication channels, it creates noise (feedback), which results in compromised communication.

When the Internet was globally introduced in 1991, news media transitioned to two-way communication channels. Since then, there has been a steady progression in misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, ‘fake news’ and other communication problems.

More information on communication can be found in the book, “The Mathematical Theory of Communication” (see references).

Basics of Communication

Communication involves a sender, a recipient, a message, and the communication channel that carries the message. Communication is vital to strategy. Strategy cannot be enacted if communication is compromised.

Figure 3. ‘Noise’ in Communication Channels

A communication channel is compromised by silence, noise, or replacement. Silence is loss of established communication. Noise is distortion, feedback, and amplification introduced into the communication channel. Replacement hijacks the communication channel with an alternate message.

If you send a letter via mail, but I steal your letter during transport, then your communication channel has gone silent. If you send a letter via mail, but I intercept this letter and scribble nonsense on the letter making it indiscernible, then your communication channel has noise. If I hijack your letter during transport and create a new message the recipient believes authentic, then your communication channel has been replaced.

All communication channels are vulnerable to silence, noise, and replacement. This principle applies to any scale whether an individual is communicating with one other individual or the entire world. This applies to one-way communication channels (where the recipient cannot communicate with the sender) and two-way communication channels.

Communication Systems

Communication systems vary in speed and size, but all systems contain communication channels that are either one-way or two-way. When the recipient and sender can switch positions on the same channel it is two-way. Letter delivery and telephone are examples of two-way communication. One-way communication does not allow the recipient to become the sender. Television and radio are examples of one-way communication.

Two-way communication is beneficial for one-on-one communication. One-way communication is beneficial for one entity communicating with many. Historically, news media utilized one-way communication systems. Recipients of news messages could not use the same communication channel to send responses. (Responses to news media could not be sent via television or paperboy).

The largest global communication system (Internet) is a two-way communication channel. A sender sends messages to specified recipient(s) or with no specified recipient. The ‘world’ that exists inside the communication channel is an organized collection of messages with no specified recipient.

The Internet is reliable when used as two-way communication between sender and specified recipient(s). However, when a two-way communication channel is used as a one-way mass communication channel, it creates ‘noise.’ This ‘noise’ presents itself as misinformation,
disinformation, and conspiracy theories.

Eight years after the Internet was launched there was so much noise some thought the world was ending during the ‘Y2K Apocalypse.’ This occurred again during the 2012 ‘Mayan Apocalypse.’ The end of the world is repeated so often that the world has lost the ability to communicate the message.

Figure 4. ‘The Telephone Game’

* This figure demonstrates how ‘noise’ (from the Disruption of journalism)
Corrupts every message on global crises. This is no different than how a message
becomes corrupted in the popular children’s game, ‘The Telephone Game.’

Perception and Reality

When a communication channel is operating as designed, the messages sent inside the communication channel match the reality outside the communication channel. Only one reality exists for the recipient.

When communication is compromised, the recipient of the message is faced with two possible realities. The perceptive reality ‘inside’ the communication channel and the objective reality ‘outside’ the communication channel. If the recipient learns the communication channel is compromised, then the corrupted reality inside the communication channel is ignored. If the recipient does not know the communication channel is compromised, the recipient believes the corrupted reality.

If I send you a letter saying I am healthy, when I am ill, and you have no reason to distrust me, then you believe a corrupted reality.

The Internet is a communication channel that allows global simultaneous communication. If the channel is compromised, there can exist as many corrupted realities as users of the global communication channel.

7.8 Billion versions of corrupted reality.

The Internet is a communication channel saturated with so much noise that any message sent to more than one recipient is distrusted.

A Stratagem for the Crisis in Journalism

A crisis is only a crisis upon identification. A crisis that is ignored becomes catastrophe. The crisis in journalism was identified years ago…

Messages sent on two-way communication channels require a response. The minimum response is acknowledgement of the received message. If this is not desired, then a one-way communication channel suffices. If one entity sends mass communication on a two-way communication channel, recipients of the message respond. This creates noise (feedback) on the communication channel.

Journalism is mass communication from one entity to many. The crisis (Disruption) in journalism occurred when journalism transitioned from one-way communication channels (Television, Radio, Newspaper) to a two-way communication channel (Internet). News media send messages over the Internet, recipients acknowledge, agree, or argue in response (through social media and comment sections). A message from one sender is amplified by three responses in the same communication channel. Noise from redundant responses equals the number of users if all users respond. In 2021, one message sent over the global communication channel can receive 23,400,000,000 responses.

The crisis in journalism has diminished public trust. The Internet allows any user the ability for mass communication. Any Internet user can create a website that replicates the news.

One person creates ‘news’ on the Internet.

If news media transitions to one-way communication systems, it solves the global catastrophe in journalism by increasing public trust, compensation, and reliability in journalism. This separates news media from social media (reverses the ongoing Disruption) and allows news media to fund itself through different ad revenue than social media. This also decreases censorship that has been occurring on both platforms due to the communication problems that are occurring since these two entities have effectively been ‘combined’ for several years. As well, it eliminates a conflict of interest that will occur if news media is to be funded by social media, which some have suggested as a possible solution to the crisis.

This stratagem should only be communicated over one-way communication channels and two-way communication channels with one recipient. If you understand what is written in this paper, no explanation is needed.

If the reader agrees with the stratagem, approval is provided by forwarding this to another individual affected by the crisis in journalism.

More information can be obtained by contacting the email at the start of this article.


Allan, S., Carter, C., Cushion, S., Dencik, L., Garcia-Blanko, I., Harris, J., Sambrook, R., Wahl-Jorgensen, K., & Williams, A. (2016). The future of journalism. Journalism Studies, 17 (7), 801-807. doi:10.1080/1461670X.2016.1199486

Allworth, J., Christensen, C., & Skok, D. (2012, September 15). Breaking News. Nieman Reports. Retrieved from

Ball, P. & Maxmen, A. (2020, May 27). The epic battle against coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories. Nature. Retrieved from

Christensen, C. (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Huxley, A. (1932). Brave New World. New York, New York: Rosetta Books LLC.

Laufer, P., Russial,J., & Wasko, J. (2015) Journalism in crisis? Javnost - The Public, 22 (4), 299-312. doi:10.1080/13183222.2015.1091618

Lepore, J. (2014, June 23). The disruption machine. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Lewis, K. (2008). Word and world: A critical thinking reader (1st Canadian ed.). Toronto, ON: Nelson Education.

Ries, J. (2020, March 12). Here’s how COVID-19 compares to past outbreaks. Heathline. Retrieved from

Satell, G. (2014, September 5). A look back at why Blockbuster really failed and why it didn’t have to. Forbes. Retrieved from

Shannon, C. & Weaver, W. (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. The University of 
Illinois Press: Urbana.

Simons, M. (2017, April 15). Journalism faces a crisis worldwide - we might be entering a new dark age. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Toneguzzi, M. (2020, March 24). Second wave of retail bankruptcies expected in Canada amid COVID-19 pandemic: expert. Retail Insider. Retrieved from

Williams, A. (2017). Measuring the journalism crisis: developing new approaches that help the public connect to the issue. International Journal of Communication, 11, 4731-4743. Retrieved from

Zhou, N. (2019, August 24). Russia Today puts Japan on the map, where New Zealand should be. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Solving the Global Communication Crisis

Prior to reading: The following article references material included in other books. Check out for a list of all books. It may be...