Thu Jan 14, 2021 10:54 am
On the R4 'Today' programme this morning (Thur 14 Jan) there was, inevitably, discussion of the HoR vote on Impeachment yesterday. A US politics academic connected the rise of social media partly (and of the extremer parts of the current President's base) to the decline of locally-based local news reporting. [hese trends were, obviously, concomitant in time, andI suppose it's hard to say which is cause and which effect. He suggested (talking only about the US) that not only did the lack of a well-resourced, well-motivated, local media base leave a vacuum which made it likely that the 'ordinary' voter would seek and believe 'news' (however false; eg 'conspiracies') from national and international sources available online in social media, geared by clever algorithms to reinforcement of ever more extreme 'echo chamber' beliefs; but also that there was much less scrutiny by their communities of local politicians (and their influencers and backers) at the start of their careers, so fewer opportunities to stymie the careers of those likely to be incompetent or corrupt.
ISTR reading that the community near Grenfell Tower had had a genuinely local print newspaper, with local office and journalists, and that this had commonly carried complaints from tenants of Council-owned high-rise blocks; but those blocks were now run at 'arm's length' by an outsourced agency, the source of many of the complaints. However, that local newspaper (like many/most) was part of a national chain. The national management had 'consolidated' that and other local London-area papers so that North Kensington was one of several 'patches' assigned to a single reporter based in Croydon ..
In the '80s we used to have the daily printed local paper delivered. For many years now it has been printed only weekly, which we do not buy; but at least it has a daily-maintained website of local news, which I do read.
So where would we be without social media ? Possibly better-informed and engaged locally, and with a more balanced feed of national and international news. Newspapers were/are obviously purchased and therefore chose, but freely received (pace TV licence cost) fairly professional and balanced broadcast (TV and radio) news.
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