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The slow death of journalism

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  • The slow death of journalism

    See also COVID-19 and the Shadowy “Trusted News Initiative”
    The slow death of journalism
    • By Brian T. Watson
    • Apr 28, 2022
    Citizens of the United States today are living during a time when there is a slow, steady, unfolding crisis in journalism. I deliberately wrote, “living during a time,” rather than “witnessing a time” because it is difficult to fully see and fully grasp the severity and consequences of this crisis.

    But the crisis in journalism is producing unwelcome effects now – and will continue to generate negative consequences – in the health, stability, and viability of democracy itself. Today, democracy is being threatened by many factors, but a weakening press is one of the bigger ones.

    Since the mid-1990s, when the internet really started to come into its own as the media-communications-retail-entertainment juggernaut that we know today, it has managed to cause the complete closure of approximately 2,000 mainstream newspapers (dailies and weeklies).

    I have some sympathy for newspapers and the people still attempting to publish them. Most papers in America are now owned by a handful of large corporations, hedge funds, and investment speculators – companies that the readers are not even aware of. Gannett, for example, is owned by New Media Investment Group, which in turn is managed and controlled by Fortress Investment Group, a private equity firm. In a last layer, Fortress is owned by Softbank, a huge Japanese multinational conglomerate with assets totaling roughly $350 billion. Its focus is on wealth and investment management, far removed from what goes on in the Billerica or Brookline Town Hall.

    With Gannett’s continuing evolution – as with journalism across the country – what will degrade is democracy. We are losing the people – both reporters and serious readers – by which private and public power is held accountable.

    Brian T. Watson of Swampscott is author of “Headed Into the Abyss: The Story of Our Time, and the Future We’ll Face.”

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    (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)
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