2016 proved to be a hugely disruptive year for the news media. Once faltering cable news found a resurgence in viewership in a bombastic presidential campaign, upended by the unconventional candidate Donald Trump, whom we now call President-elect. It also became evident that Americans are consuming news in ways we could not have imagined 10 or 20 years ago - through social media, that is often curated based on political leanings, and can set the narrative or the pickup of a news story. Facts got lost somewhere along the way, abetted by the proliferation of fake news and a spike in distrust in the media after an election result that no one saw coming. Facts aren't as secure in 2016 as they used to be. Even when they do exist they are often doubted, repurposed or sometimes just ignored.
“Facts aren't actually very pleasant," says Peter Pomerantsev, senior fellow at the Legatum Institute in London and the author of "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible." Pomerantsev joined The Takeaway's special hour broadcast in November, "Shaky Ground: Exploring the Global Turbulence of 2016."
"Facts tell us basically we are going to die, we're not as good looking as we think we are, probably going to be poorer than our parents and that our countries in the west especially are in decline," says Pomerantsev. "The only time you really need facts is when you have a clear coherent and very tangible future to aim for."
What Peter is saying there, is a staggering disappointment to Jay Rosen, who has dedicated his career to the institution that is supposed to deliver those facts: the press. Rosen is a professor at New York University and the author of PressThink, a blog about journalism in the digital age. In his latest blog post, he outlines the prospects for the American media, and for truth as a consequence, during the next four years of a Trump administration.
He says there are a few bright spots, a handful of possible solutions, but his primary message is that there is cause for concern when it comes to preserving a cycle of fact-based knowledge in America that is driven by quality journalism.