Esther Dyson, Roger McNamee, And Media Metabolism

Steve Rosenbaum
4 min readSep 21, 2022

When you ask Esther Dyson, who began her career as fact-checker/reporter for Forbes, about the challenges facing media, she inevitably answers in a complex and nuanced way. Media, she’s quick to explain, is not one thing. For example, mass media is a church, while news media is a pew in that church. It makes sentences like “the media“ or “the media is responsible“ complicated.

“I do not worship in the church of the media, but rather in the religion of journalism/truth. Media is a church that has been corrupted with the media metabolism that’s money-hungry” she says, taking aim at a business model that prioritizes profits over truth and accuracy. “All these private companies are trying to own more and more of our lives. And as our lives become more virtual, they’re saying, wow, you know, there’s a real opportunity.”

For Dyson, the metabolism of media is ravenous. Like many industries built to serve public markets, the driver is profitability at almost any cost. But as she sees it, that creates unique and dangerous problems for both the makers of, and the consumers of, media.

“Everything you do is being watched, and then you’re being sold stuff,” she says. “So it’s really about the privatization of human beings’ time, whether they’re spending it on games, in education, trying to read the news, trying to find…