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Sports and Media
The titans of digital technology believed, a generation ago, that their inventions would power great good and such progress would be universally approved. They talked about creating unlimited access to knowledge and unfettered social interaction. The world beat a path to their door, to paraphrase the old parable about the power of innovation. Algorithms led to new fortunes as well as bots, trolls and other evils. Knowledge unbound beget battles over copyright, privacy and, ultimately, order versus disorder.
Strong news brands, by and large, have discovered two things recently. Number one is the fragility, to be generous, of advertising revenues, digital and otherwise. Second and just as important is the rise of subscription revenue for big news brands like the New York Times and the Guardian. In addition, though most significantly in the US market, is the Trump Effect, passionate foes and fans of US president Donald Trump are paying to see what they want to see.
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Advocates of democratic values view as essential a free flow of information. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press are often enshrined in constitutions and similar documents presented and accepted by citizens. Media providers in democracies are, then, tasked with keeping people informed, typically through privately-owned and publicly-supported publishers and broadcasters, all legally established. Ideas are allowed to compete, officially. It was always a good plan. Too bad it is falling apart. The simultaneous rise of "illiberal" authoritarians, freely accessible digital platforms and acrimonious entitlement has turned the sound of democracy into painful noise.
Every turbulence places the media in the eye of the storm. Blame the media has become the common refrain, typically from those unable to see beyond their own spin. If only there was control, churn some. If only there was decency, plead others. The media has become the eye of the storm.
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