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Good Riddance To Mainstream Media

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  • Jim Vandehei on Mainstream Media Profitability

    Clip: Jim Vandehei argues for the motion "Good Riddance to the Mainstream Media."

  • John Hockenberry on Mainstream Media

    Clip: John Hockenberry argues for the motion "Good Riddance to Mainstream Media."

  • Phil Bronstein on Mainstream Media

    Clip: Phil Bronstein argues against the mostion "Good Riddance to the Mainstream Media."

Debate Details

Mainstream media is dying. The network evening news audience is in steady decline; the big three magazine publishers, Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst have all closed or consolidated titles; and the newspaper industry has been especially ravaged, with dailies folding across the country. Increasingly people get their news from the internet and from cable channels. Advertisers are moving on to Google and other non-traditional sources. Do these developments leave us better off? The democratization of news, in an unfiltered internet to which all bloggers and news aggregators have equal access, is a good thing. It encourages a diversity of voices, competing to provide information and analysis. Others argue that the public loses when traditional journalistic standards are no longer upheld, and where resources to investigate and report critical stories are no longer available. Can mainstream media re-invent itself to thrive in a digital age? Does it matter?

The Debaters

For the motion

John Hockenberry

Co-Host, The Takeaway

Is co-host of The Takeaway, a national morning news program co-produced by WNYC Radio and Public Radio International. During his time at ABC and NBC... Read More

Jim VandeHei

Executive Director, Politico

Is executive editor of Politico. In the fall of 2006, VandeHei, along with co-founder John Harris, left the Washington Post to create Politico, now... Read More

Michael Wolff

Columnist, Vanity Fair

Is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the founder of news aggregator His latest book is The Man Who Owns the News (2008), a biography of... Read More

Against the motion

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Editor & Publisher, The Nation

Is editor and publisher of the Nation. She is the editor of several books including, Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System... Read More

David Carr

Published Writer for the New York Times

Writes a column for the Monday Business section of the New York Times that focuses on media issues including print, digital, film, radio and television... Read More

Phil Bronstein

Reporter, San Francisco Examiner

Began his journalism career in his teens as a film reviewer. He joined the San Francisco Examiner as a reporter in 1980, and beginning in 1983, spent... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • As advertisers moved online and to alternative platforms, the traditional media monopoly on advertising came to an end and made the mainstream media’s business model obsolete.
  • Americans should be exposed to a variety of new, independent voices  and mainstream media’s extraordinary power to shape the national agenda should no longer go unchecked.
  • Mainstream media has failed in its responsibility to maintain objectivity and provide the facts and analysis Americans need to make decisions as a society.
  • In an attempt to improve ratings and readership and thus deepen profits, mainstream media organizations have focused on entertainment rather than substance and have forgone traditional journalistic values.
Against The Motion
  • Without long-standing media institutions like the New York Times, there would be few outlets with the resources and influence to protect against government overreach on First Amendment rights or advocate for the interests of journalists. 
  • While independent media often provides analysis and diversity of ideas, it relies heavily on the original reporting done by mainstream organizations and often serves as aggregators of media rather than original content creators.
  • In-depth investigative journalism, critical to the maintenance of a free press and society, requires the substantial resources and expertise of mainstream organizations.
  • While mainstream media should adapt to meet the demands of a new consumer age, it also must ensure that reliable voices are the gatekeepers of credible information.

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The Research

The Research

A New Horizon for the News

Michael Massing September 24
March 1, 2016

Newspaper Narcissism

June 1, 2009

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

Clay Shirky March 13
March 1, 2016
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