Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump's Rise, The Media's Fall and the Way Forward

If we've learned anything from this, it's that traditional media failed at their job to inform people about what was really at stake in this election. Instead we were treated to a horserace-cum-reality-TV-show where pollsters judged winners and losers in hourly increments as know-nothing pundits shouted over one another for a moment in the spotlight.

All the while, old media executives like Jeff Zucker and Les Moonves reveled in all things Trump, serving up unblinking wall-to-wall coverage of this profoundly despicable con artist to juice ratings and drive revenues. So much for "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." The show must go on.

The problem is that new media failed, too. Rather than serve as the antidote to insipid old media, it became a catalyst for untruths (see Facebook's decision to remove human editors from its "trending news" feed) and a safe haven for bigots and bullies. Trump took to Twitter to insult women, share tweets by white supremacists and amplify lies that spread like lightning across the web.

The so-called Fourth Estate is supposed to keep the other three in check. Instead it poured fuel on the dumpster fire.

Increasingly, I see healthy local reporting as one way forward through this. We need to reinvent the role journalists can play to join people around solving local problems. All politics is local, as the saying goes. Journalism needs to be as well.

A preening, hate-fueled narcissist has been elected to the most powerful job on the planet – a man who believes that the path to any victory is through dividing people against one another. We can counter that ugliness by reconnecting with our family, friends and neighbors to build better, more inclusive communities.

Local journalism can be the glue that holds us together, block-by-block, town-by-town, through good times and bad. Obviously, it won't solve all of our problems but it's one remedy that can support efforts to organize against TrumpWorld.

In the wake of this catastrophe, we shouldn't step back from one another or retreat into ourselves, but step forward into the public spaces where our neighbors gather. It may be a corner coffee shop, town square or basketball court. Local journalism can be a hub that feeds our conversations and defines what it is that unites us. We can build from this strength to confront a very uncertain future.

No comments: