Postjournalism and the death of newspapers.
The media after Trump: manufacturing anger and polarization.
Andrey Mir (2020)
“Andrey Mir’s previous book, ‘Human as Media’, was a little masterpiece that accounted for the large transformations brought about by the ‘emancipation of authorship’ in the internet. His latest book, ‘Postjournalism and the Death of Newspapers’, may be the most profound analysis of the subject since the last time Marshall McLuhan wrote about it.
‘Postjournalism’ manages to map the breadth of our madcap media environment without losing any depth of analysis; to the extent that chaos can be understood, the reader of ‘Postjournalism’ will walk away wiser about his place in the asylum. Mir describes a universe in which the news now chases the reader rather than the other way around. Everything is told in a wonderful epigrammatic style – you will be digging up quotes from it for years.
I would recommend everyone to read ‘Postjournalism’. It would make talking about media that much easier.” – Martin Gurri, author of “The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium”
“The most important book in media theory that has been written in 40 years.” – Paul Levinson, author of “Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium”
Hundreds of thousands of today’s students have never even touched a newspaper.
Newspapers are in decline because of economic and technological factors, but their life span is measured by demographic factors. The market is already ready to drop newspapers, but society is not yet. The last newspaper generation’s habits will preserve at least some demand for newspapers for a while. Newspapers will exist as an industrial product for no longer than the mid-2030s. Some vintage use of newspapers may remain afterwards, but it will be a matter of arts, not industry.
The least obvious and yet most shocking aspect of the discussion about the death of newspapers is the fact that we are discussing the fate of journalism, not just a carrier. This is neither a cyclical crisis nor a matter of transition; this is the end of an era.
“Postjournalism and the death of newspapers” unveils the economic and cultural mechanisms of agenda-setting in the news media at the final stage of their historical existence. As advertising has fled to the internet and was absorbed there almost entirely by the Google-Facebook duopoly, the news media have been 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.