Perhaps I should have named this blog “Save My Nation.”
Donald Trump has won the American presidency. A man with no experience in elected office or the military will soon lead the world’s most powerful nation.
How did he convince the voters that he was qualified to run, let alone to win?
By first convincing voters that they could not trust trained journalists and traditional news sources. Only he and his minions could be trusted to deliver unbiased, accurate information. Voters were not to believe anyone else.
For the last few years, much has been said about President Obama’s use of executive power. Whatever power grabs Obama’s critics believe of him, however, are dwarfed by what Trump has just done. In the run-up to victory, the man who soon will lead our executive branch has, effectively, grabbed the role of the Fourth Estate, assuming it as his own.
We were ripe for the taking. Few daily newspapers are as strong as they were four years ago. Few, if any, have the same number of journalists in the newsroom, print as many pages per edition, devote the staff time to develop in-depth coverage of complicated issues. More mistakes are made. More stories are never written.
And the audience’s attention has moved, to their phones and their screens. To the land of the internet, where one can network with like-minded folks who trade the same stories back and forth, whether true — or untrue.
One often hears the we-must-meet-our-readers-where-they-are mantra as a rationale for distributing news online, rather than just in print. I’ve questioned the presumption that online distribution must be part of today’s sustainable newspaper business models.
As of last night, though, I buy the mantra wholeheartedly. Not because news models that employ online distribution will be more financially sound, but because the Fourth Estate will no longer fulfill its mission if it does not bring light to the darkness of the internet. For in the absence of a constant and stable supply of clear, accurate and fair news online, the net will remain full of untruths or half-truths, of opinion rather than fact, of propaganda rather than unbiased information.
Earlier this year, I began this blog to catalog the benefits of the traditional newspaper model. Once that was done, I theorized, we could use the list to brainstorm new models as well as measure their effectiveness.
Tonight, I rededicate myself to that conversation, to the effort to help find sustainable news models that are not only financially viable, but also fulfill the mission of the Fourth Estate, in print and online. I hope I can help. I hope we can all help each other. We must bring light into the darkness.