Is there “post journalism” news?

January 24, 2021 • 1:30 pm

I used to get angry when I read the newspaper because of the foibles of politicians and other miscreants it described, or things like laws being enacted to make it impossible for women to get abortions. In other words, I didn’t like bad news, but I had to read it anyway. One must be informed.

Now, however, I get angry for another reason: the ideological bias of every news source I read, whether on the Right or Left. In fact, I don’t know of a news source whose bias isn’t worn on the sleeve. On the Left we have HuffPost, one of the most egregious examples, but also the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which have gone nearly completely woke. Even in the editorial sections you’re hard pressed to find a conservative columnist (remember the firing of the NYT op-ed editor because he allowed an editorial by Senator Tom Cotton to be published?)  The Right is even worse, with places like Breitbart or The Daily Wire having an absolutely predictable take on everything. I’m told the Wall Street Journal has a very good news section, but it’s editorially hard on the Right, and I’m not sure I want to subscribe to a paper like that.

I suppose what I’d like is a paper whose news is objective, not ideologically slanted in tone and the subjects chosen for coverage, and whose editorial section makes me think—challenges me with heterodox opinions that go against my own, or at least, if on the Left, has thoughtful and unpredictable takes.  I know of no such paper. I am reading some Substack blogs like Andrew Sullivan’s and Bari Weiss’s, because sometimes they do surprise me but they’re also thoughtful, even when I disagree. But they don’t replace the news. They are commentary on the news.

In other words, the news situation is very dire. The thesis of this City Journal article by Martin Gurri (click on screenshot below) is that the mainstream media (MSM to the cognoscenti) has entered a “post-journalism” phase in which objectivity of news coverage isn’t the goal. That goal has been replaced, argues Gurri, by journalism that caters to a niche audience, aims to keep it coming back by scaring it, and makes no pretense of evenhanded coverage. That’s what the WaPo and NYT seem like to me.

Gurri is a former CIA employee and now a news media analyst, and City Journal is published by the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, but that’s no reason to dismiss Gurri’s argument. (By the way, it really irks me when people dismiss an argument solely because it comes from one portion of the political spectrum, or if the writer has said one or a few wrong or dumb things in another venue. Do not do that on this site, where we try to stick to arguments and not reject them because they come from this or that person or ideology. Scientists argue about the data and its meaning, and don’t worry about the ideology of their opponents.)

But I digress. There’s a lot I agree with in Gurri’s views, and I’ll give a few excerpts. You can can address his arguments in the comments, and you might tell me what news sources I would find more to my liking.


Gurri mostly goes after the Times, but his arguments could apply to any slanted paper. Here’s his definition of “post-journalism” journalism:

Led by the New York Times, a few prominent brand names moved to a model that sought to squeeze revenue from digital subscribers lured behind a paywall. This approach carried its own risks. The amount of information in the world was, for practical purposes, infinite. As supply vastly outstripped demand, the news now chased the reader, rather than the other way around. Today, nobody under 85 would look for news in a newspaper. Under such circumstances, what commodity could be offered for sale?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Times stumbled onto a possible answer. It entailed a wrenching pivot from a journalism of fact to a “post-journalism” of opinion—a term coined, in his book of that title, by media scholar Andrey Mir. Rather than news, the paper began to sell what was, in effect, a creed, an agenda, to a congregation of like-minded souls. Post-journalism “mixes open ideological intentions with a hidden business necessity required for the media to survive,” Mir observes. The new business model required a new style of reporting. Its language aimed to commodify polarization and threat: journalists had to “scare the audience to make it donate.” At stake was survival in the digital storm.

The experiment proved controversial. It sparked a melodrama over standards at the Times, featuring a conflict between radical young reporters and befuddled middle-aged editors. In a crucible of proclamations, disputes, and meetings, the requirements of the newspaper as an institution collided with the post-journalistic call for an explicit struggle against injustice.

The battleground was the treatment of race and racism in America. But the story began, as it seemingly must, with that inescapable character: Donald Trump. . . .

Trump, of course, was the bugbear who sold a gazillion digital subscriptions to the New York Times and other Left-wing venues (I don’t know about Right-wing ones). And Gurri dates the change in journalism to an article in the NYT in 2016 that more or less declared that slanting of news was understandable, if not okay:

In August 2016, as the presidential race ground grimly onward, the New York Times laid down a marker regarding the manner in which it would be covered. The paper declared the prevalence of media opinion to be an irresistible fact, like the weather. Or, as Jim Rutenberg phrased it in a prominent front-page story: “If you view a Trump presidency as something that is potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that.” Objectivity was discarded in favor of an “oppositional” stance. This was not an anti-Trump opinion piece. It was an obituary for the values of a lost era. Rutenberg, who covered the media beat, had authored a factual report about the death of factual reporting—the sort of paradox often encountered among the murky categories of post-journalism.

The article touched on the fraught issue of race and racism. Trump opponents take his racism for granted—he stands accused of appealing to the worst instincts of the American public, and those who wish to debate the point immediately fall under suspicion of being racists themselves. The dilemma, therefore, was not whether Trump was racist (that was a fact) or why he flaunted his racist views (he was a dangerous demagogue) but, rather, how to report on his racism under the strictures of commercial journalism. Once objectivity was sacrificed, an immense field of subjective possibilities presented themselves. A vision of the journalist as arbiter of racial justice would soon divide the generations inside the New York Times newsroom.

Rutenberg made his point through hypothetical-rhetorical questions that, at times, verged on satire: “If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?” Rutenberg assumed that “working journalists” shared the same opinion of Trump—that wasn’t perceived as problematic. A second assumption concerned the intelligence of readers: they couldn’t be trusted to process the facts. The answer to Rutenberg’s loaded question, therefore, could only be to “throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of a half-century” and leap vigorously into advocacy. Trump could not safely be covered; he had to be opposed.

The part about assuming readers were dumb rings true: which paper now doesn’t have articles whose headlines are “X: here’s what you need to know.”

Gurri then gives a potted history of the Times‘s descent into post-journalism, exacerbated by, he claims, their and Mueller’s failure to turn up much on Trump and his associates in the “Russiagate” affair. While that looked like a coverage failure for the paper, it produce plenty of clicks—and money:

Yet what looked like journalistic failure was, in fact, an astonishing post-journalistic success. The intent of post-journalism was never to represent reality or inform the public but to arouse enough political fervor in readers that they wished to enter the paywall in support of the cause. This was ideology by the numbers—and the numbers were striking. Digital subscriptions to the New York Times, which had been stagnant, nearly doubled in the first year of Trump’s presidency. By August 2020, the paper had 6 million digital subscribers—six times the number on Election Day 2016 and the most in the world for any newspaper. The Russian collusion story, though refuted objectively, had been validated subjectively, by the growth in the congregation of the paying faithful.

This led to two video “town hall” discussions between the younger journalistic staff and the editors, the first being executive editor Dean Baquet, a black man. The first meeting was in August of 2019, and dealt with how to cover Trump, and whether to refer to him as a racist in the news section. Already, as Gurri percipiently notes, Twitter had begun to be an editor of the paper, and this remains the case. The future of the paper was limned by one young staffer in that meeting:

If Trump lied or made racist statements, journalists had a moral duty to call him out as a liar and a racist. This principle was absolute and extended to all subjects. Since, as one of them put it, “racism and white supremacy” had been “sort of the foundation of this country,” the consequences should be reported explicitly. “I just feel like racism is in everything,” this questioner asserted. “It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting.”

And so it was. This had already been instantiated in the 1619 Project, which wasn’t really journalism—nor was it history—but a unique attempt of a paper to bend the minds of Americans and their children (it’s used in school curricula) towards a specific ideology.

It led as well to the debacle that prompted the second town hall meeting: the publication of Tom Cotton’s NYT editorial, “Send in the Troops”, arguing that troops should be sent in to quell violence when there were unruly demonstrations (he was referring to racial unrest). That opinion was shared by most Americans, but the young Times staffers argued that Cotton’s editorial caused harm, even endangered them. That, of course, was ludicrous, but it also spelled the end of true conservative op-eds in the paper.  Look at the op-eds these days and you might find Ross Douthat spouting some weak conservative beer and criticizing Trump, but you’ll never see an op-ed like Cotton’s again. (Cotton’s editorial is now adorned with caveats and explanations inserted by the paper, and never appeared in the print edition.)


The day after the Cotton op-ed appeared online, Times employees sent a letter to Times decision makers, expressing “deep concern” over the piece. This document marked the logical culmination of the process that Rutenberg’s article had begun four years earlier. Objectivity now jettisoned, the question at hand was whose subjective will should control the news agenda.

The letter’s authors made a number of striking assumptions. First, the backdrop was an apocalyptic struggle between good and evil, a story “that does not have a direct precedent in our lifetimes.” The place of the New York Times in that struggle was at issue. Second, some opinions were dangerous—physically so. Cotton’s opinion fell into that category. “Choosing to present this point of view without added context leaves members of the American public . . . vulnerable to harm” while also jeopardizing “our reporters’ ability to work safely and effectively.” Third, the duty of the newspaper was less to inform than to protect such “vulnerable” readers from harmful opinions. By allowing Cotton inside the tent, the Times had failed its readership.

This was the essence of post-journalism: informational “protection”—polarization—sold as a commodity. Objectivity had crumbled before the dangerous Trump. On the question of who decided the danger of any given piece, the newsroom rebels presented a number of broad demands. Future opinion pieces needed to be vetted “across the desk’s diverse staff before publication,” while readers should be invited to “express themselves.” The young reporters felt that they had a better fix on what readers wanted than did their elders. Given the generational divide on social media, this was almost certainly true.

All that rings pretty true. Where I disagree with Gurri is his prognostication.  He feels that the road the Times went down will reach a dead end, for the younger generation, who, by and large, control what the paper prints via kvetching on Twitter, are not its main consumers. Gurri sees this as untenable, but doesn’t realize that the writers for the paper are drawn from the generation who doesn’t read it, and the writers, combined with social media, will guide the direction of the Times. I see nothing that will stop this trend, which is why I think Wokeness will increase under Biden. What is there to stop it given that even Left-centrists cave to the Outrage Culture, quaking in fear of being called racists? But let me end with Guri’s prediction:

Revolutions tend to radicalization. The same is true of social media mobs: they grow ever more extreme until they explode. But the New York Times is neither of these things—it’s a business, and post-journalism is now its business model. The demand for moral clarity, pressed by those who own the truth, must increasingly resemble a quest for radical conformism; but for nonideological reasons, the demand cannot afford to leave subscriber opinion too far behind. Radicalization must balance with the bottom line.

The final paradox of post-journalism is that the generation most likely to share the moralistic attitude of the newsroom rebels is the least likely to read a newspaper. Andrey Mir, who first defined the concept, sees post-journalism as a desperate gamble, doomed in the end by demographics. For newspapers and their multiple art forms developed over a 400-year history, Mir writes, the collision with the digital tsunami was never going to be a challenge to surmount but rather “an extinction-level event.”

Well, what will die is good journalism, the kind practiced by the “good gray Times.” What will not die are news sites themselves—at least not for a while. And the most valuable thing that will go extinct is objectivity, the heartbeat of a democracy in which citizens are supposed to make up their own minds.

37 thoughts on “Is there “post journalism” news?

  1. What worries me most about this dynamic is the idea that I think it’s destined to flip Rightwing at some point, and I think at that point it could be quite worrisome – at least to me, as a centrist. Imagine the same angry echo chamber effect riled up on topics like nationalism, military adventurism, war on crime-ism, etc…. yikes, yikes, and yikes. If that seems unlikely in today’s climate, think back to the post-2001 world – it only took about a decade and a half to go from that climate in journalism to total Wokeness. The world shifts very fast these days. Pair that with the fact that some of the far Left’s policies seem almost guaranteed to blow up terribly and cause a backlash and yeah, I see this very same apparatus being used by the other political side in a decade or so. It seems to me that the bulwark against this would be a strong, moderate left, but I’ve almost given up hope on that idea at this point. At this point I guess my hopes are pinned more on the mere survival of some kind of relatively-more-objective, relatively-less-echo-chamber-esque news, even if it’s just a small voice in the dark. As long as it’s not extinguished entirely, I guess… not exactly a high bar, but it’s something. Dispassionate, thoughtful analysis may not be the norm or even thrive, but as long as it survives in places it will do some good.

  2. Is there “post journalism” news? Obviously, yes. As there has been in the past, the Nazi past, the Soviet era and on. Too bad.
    ‘How we arrived in a post-truth era, when “alternative facts” replace actual facts, and feelings have more weight than evidence. Are we living in a post-truth world, where “alternative facts” replace actual facts and feelings have more weight than evidence? How did we get here? ‘. From The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series
    By Lee McIntyre

  3. I am not in a position to evaluate the “wokeness” of either the NYT or WaPo, since I have given up reading both after they paywalled.

    But I don’t see the NYT of 2016 as having a liberal bias. Quite the opposite; there have been several analyses done about how much space they devoted to Clinton’s emails, and the placement of those stories on the front page. There was also much ado about the investigation into the Clinton Foundation, which turned up nothing. I keep an eye on both Charity Watch and Charity Navigator because whenever I donate to a charity, I have a personal threshold percentage below which I will not go regarding how much goes to their purported goals and how much to administrative expenses and further fundraising. The Clinton Foundation has the highest rating from both these websites, and never lost it, despite the investigation. The Trump Foundation was closed and prosecuted for fraud by the State of NY, but not much was made of that during the runup to the election. And after Trump won the Electoral College and was installed into office, his entire administration used private email servers. No complaints from anyone that I saw.

    Hillary Clinton was investigated in 2017 for supposed criminal behavior. The DOJ cleared her. And where was that article in the NYT? Buried in the back of the first section.

    And only recently has the Times used the word, in description of Trump’s lies, “falsehood”. They still don’t call them LIES.

    As far as WAPO, they’ve always been pretty left-leaning.

    There are websites that concentrate on fact-based news, and if you read more than one, you can usually get a fairly rounded picture of what’s happening. Reuters, AP, Axios, ProPublica, to name a few. I also read TPM, which admits its left-lean, but they do make a concerted effort to separate and identify news from opinion. And I find Josh Marshall’s opinions well thought out and grounded in reality.

    Most people will not make an effort, though. They just want a quick read, and that’s a problem.


    1. I mostly agree Linda. There are some ridiculous things happening at the NYT and WaPo, but there are still some outstanding journalists there too. There are other outlets too that try to make a point of being non-biased and largely succeed.

      There is, and has been for some time, right-wing media that deals in alternative facts. There are liberal media who are unable to see anything to criticize in their cause and nothing to praise about the right. But I don’t think it’s quite as bad as some think, and I think it’s likely to settle down now that Trump is out of the White House. We’ll still have outlets like HuffPo and Breitbart, but most people don’t torture themselves by reading them. (I certainly don’t.) Even when they do, most people can see through them and they remain largely centrist.

      I think the difficulty has been that since Trump entered the White House there has been so much coming out of him and his administration that simply isn’t true. The media can’t be expected to ignore that. Therefore it looks like they’re constantly attacking him. But to ignore the lies would be to give them credence.

      There’s also the fact that Trump used the bully pulpit to say that anyone who said he was lying was a liar. It’s very difficult to report in that atmosphere. Journalists are being verbally and physically abused by him and his cult just for telling the truth. Trump at one point banned NYT, WaPo, CNN, ProPublica, and others from his news conferences simply for contradicting his lies.

      I think it might be too soon to despair of good journalism. My main source is CNN. They appear to me to make an effort to be fair and honest. I think a better atmosphere is coming. One where things like racism, sexism etc., are taken into account, but do not dominate over facts, fairness, and honesty.

  4. There is a real post-journalism news problem, but not because of partisanship. Rather, because reporting and actual investigation have been cut to the bone, and beyond. Why pay for such information when you can get it for free by copying off of other sources? Actual journalism is expensive; almost nobody want to go around interviewing important people without getting paid a living wage for it. Opinion is cheap for the same reason talk is cheap: supply exceeds demand.

    When the First Amendment to the US Constitution was written, newspapers were partisan as all get out. But the framers figured that citizens could sort the wheat from the chaff. Later, advertising incentives and the need not to offend potential audiences drove most newspapers to try “objectivity”. Which never lived up to actual objectivity – look how official US enemies are treated in the “news” – it just had a bigger tent.

  5. I get my news by reading The Economist. As a result, I am always a few weeks behind the rest of the world, but I feel no need to be in a hurry. Incidentally, City Journal often has articles that are well worth reading. One has to retain a grain of salt, in regard to the conservative outlook that is sometimes (but not always) evident. They are particularly interesting and thought-provoking, as one might expect, in regard to urban issues.

  6. Haven’t newspapers always been organs of political points of view? I suspect thats the reason freedom of the press is included in the first amendment.

    1. Sure, but in the best paper, like the NYT used to be, the editorial slant didn’t leak into the news reports itself. In the Hearst papers of yore, sure, but that’s now what the NYT and Washington Post used to be like. You don’t have to be particularly attentive to see the changes in those newspapers, particularly the NYT, in the last few years.

      1. I’ve read my hometown newspaper the NYT for 27 years now – very happily. They were one of the first city newspapers to paywall and I immediately paid.
        You are right though – especially in the last, say, 2-3 years, they have become horribly woke – race obsessed and class berserk. Which is strange since most of its readership are upper middle class white people. It is disappointing.

        1619 and the article about adopting kittens the other day “for those who can afford it….” (sigh) is a good example. I’m sooo sick of “checking my priv.”
        I’ll still read/pay, but it p***es me off.

  7. I couldn’t agree more about this.It is the same in the UK but there are still a few worth reading. The best two are the FT (Financial Times) and the independent. The Times is still good altough the owners influence can be clearly seen. The rest are not worth reading.

    1. … and post-journalists tell you whatever will keep your eyeballs moving over the adverts, mostly by confirming your biases. It’s not news, or even opinion, but entertainment.

  8. I subscribe to two newspapers, my local Las Vegas Review-Journal and the WSJ. The conservative R-J has a left-wing insert— the Sun. The R-J editorial pages lean hard-right while the Sun leans hard-left. Both viewpoints make me bristle. The WSJ editorials are well thought out and lean center/center-right. All viewpoints are represented.

    I read to learn, not for an infusion of feeling and certainly not for partisan huffery and puffery.

    There has been some conflict of late between the opinion division and the newsroom (you can read about it by Googling “At Wall Street Journal, News Staff and Opinion Side Clash” in the NYTs). It took me several weeks to ease into the Journal after canceling the Times. Best transition I ever made.

    1. The editorials in the WSJ sometimes make me furious, but I give the WSJ credit for objective and excellent news reporting. That is why I subscribe, as well as to read POVs that are different from my own.

      1. The National Review did call out Tr*mps behavior occasionally, in the most moderate of terms. Bought a subscription for my conservative friend (and myself) in the hopes that she might listen to them, and move away from Breitbart and InfoWars.

        That did not work; she’s now forsaken FoxNews for QAnon.

    2. “I read to learn, not for an infusion of feeling and certainly not for partisan huffery and puffery.”

      When reading the print NY Times, I have my pen at the ready to mark diagonal lines through at least the first paragraph of breathless, borderline histrionic puffery, continuing as necessary until I get to the substance of the article. I want to keep abreast of and monitor the extent of this fount of irksomeness. Though I gather that, after all, it is about the story, the compelling “narrative,” eh? Perhaps the path of least resistance is to succumb, to acquiesce, to give myself over to it. (Not)

  9. 2 Things. If you want to be informed, internationally informed, Al Jazeera is your place.
    After PBS most US broadcast and cable news is pitched at a 5th grade level or at a brain damage ward – it is insulting. Al Jazeera is what the BBC USED to be.

    2. I wrote an article last week in my column about the psychological dynamics of abortion and a change in Argentinian law regarding it –


  10. Gurri’s piece is reasonably well-written and has valid points to make about the failures of mainstream journalism during the Trump years. But he fails to come to grips with the central issue that the NYT’s Jim Rutenberg struggled to address in the August 2016 piece Gurri is so critical of — how was so-called “objective journalism” to deal with an unprecedented phenomenon like Donald Trump, someone who constantly lied without compunction, who lied with total disregard for his lies’ transparency, who believed (or at least seemed to believe) he could bullshit his way through any and all inconvenient facts.

    Trump got his toehold in national politics with the Big Lie that his predecessor — the nation’s first African-American president — had been born in a foreign country and was, thus, ineligible for the office to which he was elected. Trump (who, tellingly, later claimed that all anonymous sources were fictional) supported this lie with claims that he had received crucial information from unnamed, but highly placed, sources within the US government, and with blatantly false assertions that he had hired a team of non-existent “investigators” to go to Hawaii and who had uncovered evidence that Obama’s birth there had been a fabrication.

    Trump then blatantly lied throughout his 2016 campaign, perhaps most perniciously by telling the American people that he did not have, had never had, and was not then negotiating any proposed business deals in Russia (despite his then endeavoring, right up until the 2016 election itself — which Trump expected to lose — to contract for the biggest construction project of his life in Moscow, for which he had dangled to Vladimir Putin the bribe of a $50 million penthouse, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

    Trump then began his presidency with the blatant, and blatantly absurd, lie that the crowd on the National Mall for his inauguration was the yoogest in history, despite anyone having eyes to see being able to tell that this was false. He also claimed (with not a scintilla of evidence to back it up) that 3 million illegal aliens — precisely his shortfall in the 2016 popular vote — had voted for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

    How was “objective journalism,” which had reigned as the prevailing mode in the US for the last half century, to deal with something so novel? By simply reporting that “President Trump claims X, while Democrats dispute X” even though one side was a transparent lie?

    There are holes in so-called “objective journalism” that sometimes require honest journalist to get subjective. That’s how H.L. Mencken eventually revealed William Jennings Bryan for blowhard mountebank he was. It’s how Edward R. Murrow helped finally to put a stake through the heart of Joe McCarthy. And it’s how Walter Cronkite helped turn the tide of public opinion against the US military folly in Vietnam.

    I’m not saying that The New York Times (whose news coverage is increasingly befouled by the growing menace of wokeism) provided any type of model for how this task should be accomplished. But, in the piece under consideration here, Martin Gurri utterly fails to come to grips with the hard nut of the central issue he himself raises.

    1. A lot of our troubles seem to be due to a sort of loss of innocence. We relied on the news to tell us only things that were true. Unfortunately, people learned how to game that system to their advantage. Something similar has happened in many segments of our society which rely on rules and cooperation. It’s appears to be a general vulnerability of an open society.

      I like to think that Trump’s lie about Obama was his way of honing his media gaming skills. It presented no real risk to him but allowed him to test which messages worked and which didn’t, as well as how the news cycle worked. Not coincidentally, it sent a message to those who would eventually become his political base.

      It will be interesting to see if the media figures out how to combat the Trumps that will inevitably follow in his footsteps. They now are fighting back but on well-recognized themes such as “the election was stolen”. I have little confidence that they’ll recognize the next Big Lie, or the next Big Liar, in time to prevent their being coopted.

  11. That‘s an interesting take, with some new examples, but the origins are not correct. One-sided reporting was the norm for the longest time. The informative style developed after World War I. In this period, Siegmund Freud‘s nephew Edward Bernays became known as the father of propaganda, rebranded as “public relations”. By the 1950s, more sophisticated techniques were influencing reporting, too, which we call “spin”.

    Even though the general appearance of reporting facts was maintained, journalism was skewed in ways as outlined by the “Propaganda Model” through so-called filters. For instance, a popular pro-union worker’s news would vanish, because firms wouldn’t buy ad space, making it too expensive. Or, journalists would avoid certain topics, because if they reported critically, the telephones would ring all day from “concerned readers”, and it wasn’t worth the hassle (these proto-twitter mobs tended to be conservatives, whipped up by their moral authorities).

    Journalists tried to appear objective (and advertiser-friendly), because that‘s where everyone thought the most money could be made. Cast the widest web, earn more. The departure to a different model is credited to Roger Ailes, and the invention of the Fox News 24/7 news cycle.

    The new idea was that more money could be made by picking a suitable target audience, and get them hooked. The “news” would tell an ongoing “developing” story where the viewer would be invested, and have stakes in. This led to fear-mongering and perpetual outrage, and a cultivation of that audience. If they switch to something else, they might not see what Obama, commies, satanists and Antifa are up to.

    This target audience driven, echo chamber style of post-news came to many outlets when they hired Tumblr-socialised “internet experts” as I wrote many times through the years, but they didn’t do it by accident. It is an adaption to social media, “engagement” and the attention economy of today.

    I suspect it might rip the US apart for good in about a decade. It took a while until right wing minds were sufficiently contaminated, and I don’t believe it’s possible to heal their cognitive poisoning by looking for some kind of balanced middle ground between reality and their feverish delusions. The poisoning of the Blue Tribe is ongoing for a good decade, and will show serious effects, too, in the near future.

    Matt Taibi is often writing on this subject, and also got a new one up, “The Echo Chamber Era”. He also makes suggestions what could be done about it.

    1. Just to add a personal observation of the longstanding nature of spin, in the late 70s I subscribed to both Time and Newsweek for a short while. While the facts of the news reports where the same, the adjectives used in those reports were subtlely slanted towards conservative (Time) and liberal (Newsweek). It was quite obvious if you read them side by side.

  12. I get a “blend” of news through an app called blendle. With the subscription I have, which costs less than that of a regular newspaper, I have access to ten articles a day from a large variety of sources.

    You can pre select the topics and sources. I have made a conscious effort to include some newspapers and magazines that I tend to dislike or disagree with, just to challenge myself.

    All though blendle is a Dutch app, I do think it is available in the US as well, and I highly recommend it.

  13. I would place the change as having started almost 10 years earlier (2006) with its coverage of the Duke Lacrosse incident and also Times’s coverage of Israel war with Hezbollah.

    I was really thrown when I realized that on various occasions the Times would print pictures of Israeli soldiers resting and relaxing, in essence looking like losers. But Hezbollah was time and again pictured in strict military formations, alert, looking like they could storm the world.

    Its coverage of the 2015 refugee crisis was inseparable from editorial with cropped pictures, emphasis on the scant children/mothers and so much more. In terms of police shootings of especially unarmed people, there was never a single headline regarding police shootings of Hispanics, whites, or Asians…only black people.

    It’s coverage of the Covington kids was the inverse of what happened….even after very clear tapes showing who said what and moved where came to light quickly.

    I am not going to get any Jussie Smollet nor the Central Park birdwatcher incident and its “karen”. BTW, the moment I heard it happened in the Ramble part of Central Park, I knew he was gay. Don’t ask.

    I finally got tired of having to fact check the NYTimes, especially statistics used for many of it op-ed pages. So, I cancelled.

    I am lucky that I read French and Spanish, which allows me a greater number of sources, but still guided by sins of omissions and sins of commissions.

    Haaretz is not actually not bad.

  14. The Economist is still the best. I’ve been a subscriber for most of my adult life. I don’t perceive it has any Left or Right bias though I suppose it is biased toward capitalism. Many of its articles take a position on things but I like to think it is based on evidence and data wherever possible.

    Of course, it’s a weekly rather than a daily. For many years, they offered electronic access as an extra charge over the paper subscription but recently they’ve included electronic access in the subscription. This has caused me to consume their content electronically but I still get the paper magazine each week. I often find I have read the articles online already.

    Although the Economist is still a weekly, they release articles electronically on a daily basis. My guess is that they know that news needs to be delivered on a more frequent basis and they are using the online version to make that transition gradually.

    1. We used to get the ‘Observer’ delivered (it’s the ‘Sunday Guardian’). It offered a more reflective commentary on the previous week’s news and a business and economics section which was far more informative about the causes of changes in the world and the UK than political commentary.

      We gave it up when the ‘life style’ magazine became so twee middle class… a precursor to wokeness perhaps?

  15. What do you all think of Associated Press and Reuter’s? They seem to report straight-forward facts, often relied upon by Right and Left media.

  16. I’d be more concerned about mainstream-media newspaper survival against big social media platforms had major newspaper owners taken humanity’s great plight of global warming a lot more serious since the mid 1990s (a point from which sufficiently positive climate measures were much more possible).

    Instead, what I read was, as one harrowing example, the unsigned editorial that a local community newspaper, The Surrey Now-Leader, printed just before Earth Day 2017, titled “Earth Day in need of a facelift”.

    Varied lengths of the same editorial was also run by other B.C. community newspapers owned by news-media-mogul (and aspiring oil-refiner) David Black.

    It opined that “some people would argue that [the day of environmental action] … is an anachronism”, that it should instead be a day of recognizing what we’ve societally accomplished. “And while it [has] served us well, in 2017, do we really need Earth Day anymore?”

    Though in my lifetime I’ve never heard anyone suggest we’re doing so well as to render Earth Day an unneeded “anachronism”, considering the sorry state of the planet’s natural environment, it was the most irresponsible form of editorial journalism I’ve yet seen in my 32 years of newspaper consumption.

    For, while some readers may dismiss it as just another opinion, there are many readers (as I once was) who may take such unsigned editorials, especially from their local press, as a seriously considered and balanced argument.

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