Postjournalism and the death of newspapers.
The media after Trump: manufacturing anger and polarization.
Andrey Mir (2020)
– “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. – 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”
– Andrey Mir’s “Postjournalism” offers a powerful, sweeping narrative of how news media have evolved over the centuries. – Arnold Kling, economist, author of “Crisis of Abundance” and “Invisible Wealth”.
– In his book “Postjournalism and the Death of Newspapers”, Mir is here partly to praise newspapers, partly to bury them, but mostly to explain why their death is (a) inevitable and (b) a very big deal. He communicates this with a history of news media and a blizzard of concepts and neologisms. – Danyl Mclauchlan, The Spinoff, New Zealand.
– As Mir argues, this change in the economic structure of the news media has quietly transformed journalism from a theoretically neutral means of “manufacturing consent” into a political cause that people are rallied into supporting, usually by inciting them to some form of outrage. – Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept.
Under the cover
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.
Reviews and mentions
Listening to a Herald of Doom. Liberty, Bruce Ramsey, September 1, 2021.
Things fall apart: why journalism might not survive what’s coming next.The Spinoff, Danyl Mclauchlan, August 21, 2021.
The Press Now Depends on Readers for Revenue and That’s a Big Problem for Journalism. Discourse, Andrey Mir, July 28, 2021.
How Economics Drives News Media. Andrey Mir’s Postjournalism offers a powerful, sweeping narrative of how news media have evolved over the centuries. EconLib, Arnold Kling, July 5, 2021.
Чи можлива справжня журналістика в епоху повсюдної поляризації. В чому дослідник медіа Андрєй Мір бачить причину занепаду журналістики та що робити, аби не дозволити медіа та соцмережам поляризувати суспільство ще більше. Detector, Антон Процюк, 1 Липня 2021.
“Post-Journalism” and the Death of News. Elites have lost control of the information agenda and, despite the “Trump bump,” they’re not getting it back. Discourse, Martin Gurri, April 13, 2021.
Factoids and Fake News. Martin Gurri interviews Andrey Mir about the future of journalism. Discourse, April 13, 2021.
How to live with polarisation. New Money Review, Paul Amery, March 19, 2021.
How to Understand the Rage Economy. In “Postjournalism,” media ecologist Andrey Mir analyzes the way the news economy shapes our perceptions of reality. The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain, February 13, 2021.
Review of Andrey Mir’s Postjournalism and the Death of Newspapers. Paul Levinson’s Infinite Regress. Paul Levinson, February 10, 2021.
Slouching Toward Post-Journalism. City Journal, Martin Gurri, Winter 2021.
Postjournalism by Andrey Mir. Worker and Parasite, podcast. November 13, 2020.