January 26, 2018


Credit: AP Photo/ Rajanish Kakad

For the last decade, newspaper circulation has seen a staggering drop. Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of today's adults get their news online.  So how are journalism outlets adjusting to a digital world? We talk with Franklin Foer, author of the book, "World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech," about how social media and CEOs like Jeff Bezos have changed the journalism game.   

Three Takeaways 

  • Obsessed. That's the best way to describe how Foer felt when he was using Chartbeat, the real-time analytics tool The New Republic used while he was editor there. He says many outlets still pore over data and will even change headlines or pictures in a poorly-performing article to try and boost traffic.  
  • You could say journalism has a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Foer says that for many years, media outlets relied too much on the social media giant for traffic, even if it meant tailoring editorial content to match what was trending. It's only recently that newsrooms are starting to break away from a Facebook-friendly mentality.   
  • Despite the industry's troubles, digital journalism has one major success story: The Washington Post. But the Post's owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns America's largest online retailer, Amazon, and Foer warns that concentration of power could mean trouble.    

More reading

  • The New Yorker explains why handing an ailing media organization over to a billionaire isn't always a sure-fix. 
  • The Columbia Journalism Review writes about why there's sometimes a clash between digital minds and traditional journalists.  
  • The New York Times' associate managing editor explores how one of America's biggest newspapers is tapping into new digital avenues. 

Franklin Foer, Culture, Journalism

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