Postjournalism and the death of newspapers.
The media after Trump: manufacturing anger and polarization.
Andrey Mir (2020)
Media business that mostly relies on ad revenue requires an audience that consists of happy and economically able consumers. Media business that mostly relies on reader revenue requires an audience that consists of frustrated and politically strangulated citizens. The media not only address these audiences; they create and reproduce them.
All we knew about journalism was related to a news business funded by advertising. Advertising has fled to the internet. The entire media environment is shifting. The media are forced to switch to another source of funding – selling content to readers. However, they cannot sell news, because news is already known to people whose media consumption is increasingly centered on social media newsfeeds. Instead, the media offers the validation of already-known news within a certain value system and the delivery of the “right” news to others. The business necessity forces the media to relocate the gravity of their operation from news to values.
Media outlets are increasingly soliciting subscriptions as donations to a cause. To attract donations, they have to focus on ‘pressing social issues’. However, for better soliciting, they must also support and amplify readers’ irritation and frustration with those issues. Thus, the media are incentivized to amplify and dramatize issues whose coverage is most likely to be paid for. Ideally, the media should not just exaggerate but induce the public’s concerns.
The ad-driven media manufactured consent. The reader-driven media manufactures anger. The former served consumerism. The latter serves polarization.
Because the largest mainstream media outlets in the US, both liberal and conservative, performed incredibly well in commodifying Trump in the form of soliciting subscriptions as donations to the cause, the rest of the media market has started moving in the same direction.
The need to pursue reader revenue, with the news no longer being a commodity, is pushing journalism to mutate into postjournalism. Journalism wants its picture to match the world; postjournalism wants the world to match its picture. The media are turning into crowdsourced Ministries of post-truth not because of some underlying conspiracies but due to their business needs and the settings of a broader media environment.
This book is about the origins and propelling forces of this mutation. The book explores polarization as a media effect, seeing polarization studies as media studies.