If No News, Send Rumors (1991) by Stephen Bates is probably one of the greatest books about journalism ever written, and I highly recommend reading it if you want to understand why journalism collapsed.
I have both the hardcover and paperback versions of it, and have recommended this book for years.
It doesn’t provide the thesis that journalism had troubles. What it does is very simple: it chronicles the world of journalism across the decades, including ethics. These are well-research vignettes, and I consider it essential reading.
It showed the profound lack of morals in the profession: how one journalist planted evidence to make an innocent woman look guilty of murder (spoiler alert: it worked so well that she was sentenced to death; though she wasn’t executed). It showed how reporters pushed for wars over the decades, essentially advocating death.
Facebook was always about algorithms and giving advertisers tailor-made campaigns and readers to them. That was the attraction of Facebook in the first place. These advertisers pulling out now is a real knee-slapper — as if they didn’t know or take advantage of it. They would have to know it, and tweak their campaigns to take advantage of it.
Of course they knew and traditional media did not keep up, and lost out.
I knew it, too. I never assumed the Internet was private, or that advertisers wouldn’t salivate at the idea. That’s rubbish.
Live Out Loud was the acknowledgement that privacy was less important than self-expression. People knew the risks, they just didn’t care.
So why the shift in narrative?
For journalists, they are trying to reclaim ground they lost based on their own methods. They never kept up, and paid the price.
Will it work?
It will not encourage people to go back to legacy media. After all, media outlets also used Facebook to get specialized audiences to migrate to their own platforms. So they took advantage of the same technology and morals to try to benefit from it.
I do foresee another medium coming in, however. It is inevitable. The Internet was transformative, but it is also transitory: it is the in-between transition merging the previous three media into one — that there will be another that takes the best of all four is a given.
The world spins. It is not static, and why journalists can never see the obvious is the reason they fell behind and disconnected from the very audiences they are now manipulating for their own benefit…