A Post-Truth world heralded the end of journalism as we knew it. And — in the wise words of Buzzfeed — “That’s a good thing!”
Alright, while the moniker of the Post-Truth Era certainly fits where we are right now, perhaps it is a bit misleading in this context. It seems to imply that the death of traditional journalism is an inherently terrible conclusion. The last bastion of truth — the source which prevents democracy from dying in darkness — is now gone. What is there to believe?
Well… the truth is, a lot of things. Just because the big giants of news are falling doesn’t really mean anything to us on a macro-level. But on a micro-level, interesting things are bubbling up. The journalists who worked for these sites are now making their own WordPresses, Twitters, and Substacks. They’re essentially taking truth from the corporations and putting it back in the hands of the individuals. This can be dangerous, but it can also be really good.
The trick is then figuring out which of these micro-creators is legitimate, and which are fake news. Well, let me ask you — how do you determine which news media is legitimate? Well, you see if they cite their sources, if people treat them as a reputable info dealer, if they… oh, wait. None of this is exclusive to the giant firms, is it?
This is why I say it doesn’t mean anything on a macro-level. All we’re going to need to do is find out which journalists are legit and which are not, and we’ve already done that for the most part (we recognize most of them from their articles on NYT, or the Verge, etc.). There will still be fake news, and there will still be people who believe fake news, but that already existed with news media (Breitbart, anyone?). So, the process is still the same — it’s just that everyone’s gotten a little smaller.
But by putting it in the hands of the individuals, it gives people independence — the independence to write and interview and investigate as they please, without signing off on a major body. Casey Newton is no longer tied to the Verge’s dollar, and if Casey Newton wants to report on something via his independent means, then he can do it. By decentralizing journalism, what we’ve done instead is provide a lot more of a chance for stories to be heard, which otherwise might not have been. And I think that’s well worth the risk.