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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Breaking News

The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now

Alan Rusbridger

Picador

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Introduction


By early 2017 the world had woken up to a problem that, with a mixture of impotence, incomprehension and dread, journalists had seen coming for some time. News – the thing that helped people understand their world; that oiled the wheels of society; that pollinated communities; that kept the powerful honest – news was broken.

The problem had many different names and diagnoses. Some thought we were drowning in too much news; others feared we were in danger of becoming newsless. Some believed we had too much free news: others, that paid-for news was leaving behind it a long caravan of ignorance.

No one could agree on one narrative. The old media were lazy and corrupt: and/or the new players were greedy and secretive. We were newly penned into filter bubbles: rubbish – they had always been there. There was a new democracy of information: bunkum – the mob were now in control. The old elites were dying: read your history – power simply changes shape.

On this most people could agree: we were now up to our necks in a seething, ever churning ocean of information; some of it true, much of it wrong. There was too much false news, not enough reliable news. There might soon be entire communities without news. Or without news they could trust.

There was a swamp of stuff we were learning to call ‘fake news’. The recently elected 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, used the term so indiscriminately it rapidly lost any meaning. The best that traditional journalism could offer was – or so he repeatedly told us – fake. We should believe him, not lying journalists.

Truth was fake; fake was true.

And that’s when the problem suddenly snapped into focus.

Throughout recent centuries anyone growing up in a western democracy had believed that it was necessary to have facts. Without facts, societies could be extremely dark places. Facts were essential to informed debates, to progress, to coherence, to justice.

We took it for granted, perhaps, that facts were reasonably easy to obtain; and that, over time, we’d developed pretty effective methods of distinguishing truth from falsehood.

Suddenly it was not so easy to establish, or agree on, truths. The dawning realisation that we were in trouble coincided with the near-collapse of the broad economic model for journalism. People had – sort of – known that was happening, but in a world of too much news they had stopped noticing.

In a world of too much to absorb, and never enough time, people skipped the story.

And then people started noticing. For a brief period in January 2017 George Orwell’s 1984 – ‘How do we know two and two make four?’ – went to the top of the Amazon bestseller list while Hannah Arendt’s definitive guide to totalitarianism,1 written just after the Second World War, sold out.

‘The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie,’ Arendt had written in 1951, ‘but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world – and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end – is being destroyed…’

Nearly 70 years later many of us may be surprised to be asking the most basic question imaginable: how do you know if something is true or not?

* * *

Here is just one small example of this new world of information chaos, playing out as I was writing this chapter. I could have chosen a thousand such illustrations, but this had most of the components of the unfolding problem.

In February 2017 Donald Trump used a rally in Melbourne, Florida, to draw attention to disturbing events he said were happening in Sweden.2 ‘You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.’

The President of the United States paused for the name to sink in and then repeated it.

‘Sweden.’

‘Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers and they’re having problems like they never thought possible.’

Sweden was puzzled. The country, like others in Europe, was not without its tensions after the recent wave of migration from North Africa and the Middle East. There had been a widespread – but by no means universal – welcome to the 163,000 asylum seekers who arrived in the country that year.3 But, amid a spate of really frightening terror attacks in Europe, it seemed curious to single out Sweden for a stump speech in Florida.

So little of note appeared to have happened in Sweden the previous evening – apart from a national singing competition – that social media regarded the intervention as a bit of a joke.

‘Sweden? Terror Attack? What has he been smoking?’ former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt tweeted. There were spoof hashtags – #JeSuisIKEA and #IStandWithSweden – while other users questioned the safety of ABBA.

The following day Trump clarified his Sweden statement. He told his 40 million followers on Twitter that it had been ‘in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden’.

And so began an anatomy of how Donald Trump arrived at his version of the truth. Which, given he was the most powerful man on earth, was quite important to understand.

The previous Friday night’s Tucker Carlson Tonight had included an interview with someone we might call a media controversialist, Ami Horowitz, about a documentary the latter was making about Sweden.

‘There was an absolute surge in gun violence and rape in Sweden once they began this open-door policy,’ Horowitz had told Carlson.

Who was Ami Horowitz? For 13 years he worked as an investment banker with Lehman Brothers before reinventing himself as a gonzo filmmaker. His website shows him engaged in a series of provocations (‘Ami on the loose’) where, for instance, he descends on the campus at the University of California, Berkeley, to alternate between waving an American flag and an Isis flag – and gauge the supposed difference in reaction from students. That, he says, was watched 15 million times across various platforms. In another, he retaliates at Palestinians lobbing stones at an Israeli checkpoint on the West Bank (‘It was time to get stupid’).4 His work – inspired, he says, by Michael Moore – has been called ‘docu-tainment’ or ‘mockumentaries’.

In 2017 anyone can be a ‘journalist’ and anyone can transmit their work to a global audience. It helps if a huge mainstream news channel amplifies your work. Horowitz has described Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News as ‘a partner’ (‘They’ve done a phenomenal job of disseminating the videos and my point of view’),5 and they duly picked up on a YouTube video he’d published in December 2016 claiming that ‘rape and violence has exploded across Sweden due it’s [sic] immigration policies’.6

Within 15 seconds of the video, an alert viewer would see what kind of an exercise this was. Horowitz lingers on a BBC headline ‘Sweden’s rape rate under the spotlight’. In fact, that four-year-old, 1,200-word article – pegged to the extradition of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, rather than immigration – was a nuanced exploration of whether Sweden’s apparently higher rates of rape were mainly down to changes in the way the police record incidents. But that was not how Horowitz used the headline.

Horowitz dealt in outrage, entertainment and provocation. It was central to his Unique Selling Point that he told uncomfortable home truths the despised Mainstream Media (MSM) ignored.7 He was not a reliable source for the President of the United States. Or anyone else.

Following on from Trump’s discovery of Horowitz’s work the Swedish paper Aftonbladet analysed his film and found it ‘contained many errors and exaggerations’.8 Another newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, quoted two police officers interviewed by Horowitz as saying that the filmmaker had selectively edited and distorted their comments to prove his thesis. ‘We don’t stand behind what he says,’ said one of them, Anders Goranzon. ‘He is a madman.’9

But the truth, or otherwise, of the film appears to have been of little concern to Fox, America’s most-watched cable network – described as Murdoch’s ‘profit machine’ by Bloomberg.10 The programme, seen by as many as 2.5 million viewers, gave further exposure and credibility to the video, which had itself had half a million views on social media.

Enter the President of the United States.

It’s doubtful that Donald Trump had any idea of who Horowitz was, or whether he had any journalistic credentials. In general, he appears predisposed to believe Fox News tells the truth and that the New York Times tells lies. So – after his stump speech in Florida – the President then broadcast the existence of Horowitz’s gonzo docu-tainment to his 40 million-odd followers on Twitter.

Thus were half-truths blasted around the planet’s new global information eco-system.

This horizontal transmission of news – from person to person – is virtually unmappable. But let us suppose that hundreds of millions of people around the world would by now have registered – at some level – this … germ.

I use the word ‘germ’ in the absence of another easy label. The exercise Horowitz was engaged in, and which the President and Fox News megaphoned, was not conventional journalism. These were not ‘facts’. Deeply buried in some of the assertions in a ten-minute film there may even have been some semi-truths. I will not call the rest ‘lies’. The point is that most of the hundreds of millions who will have been touched by the germ will not have registered the detail. They will not have researched the origins of Trump’s Swedish intervention or looked into Horowitz’s techniques or motivations.

The virus is likely to have lodged itself as little more than a perception, in those ready to believe, that Muslim immigration leads to unspeakable things such as mass rape – and that the West had better wake up. A couple of days after Trump spoke there was some rioting in the northern suburbs of the Swedish capital, Stockholm. No smoke without a fire? But which was the smoke, and which the fire?

The patient analysis and denials of Swedish newspapers counted for little as the virus spread. In the UK the former UKIP11 leader (and friend of Donald Trump) Nigel Farage used his radio show on LBC to announce that Malmo, a city in southern Sweden, was now the ‘rape capital of Europe and, some argue, perhaps even the rape capital of the world. And there is a Swedish media that just don’t report it.’12

* * *

Months later I was browsing through my Twitter feed and saw someone I follow – Godfrey Bloom, a leading UKIP figure and former Member of the European Parliament – retweeting news of a horrific attack on a teenage girl in Malmo. Someone calling himself @PeterSweden7 tweeted about his ‘blood being at boiling point … While she was being raped the rapists poured lighter fuel in her vagina and set it on fire. MSM is quiet. RETWEET.’13

This germ was so graphically specific and shocking that it caused understandable revulsion as it ricocheted around the internet. On the social media website Reddit there was a bitterly angry thread. The attack was said to be the fourth rape in two months. It was taken as read that the attackers were Muslim immigrants. If you let Muslims into your country – so many commenters raged – what do you expect?

This was war.

But did the incident – with the obscene barbarity alleged by @PeterSweden7 – actually happen? That was a more complicated question and would take more than a day of patient digging to get near any kind of truth.

A 17-year-old girl had undoubtedly been raped that evening in Malmo – and the attack had been widely reported in the press. But @PeterSweden7 was right to say that newspapers had made no mention of lighter fuel being poured into the victim’s vagina and set on fire. Was this out of political correctness, or because it hadn’t happened?

I tweeted an appeal for help in getting some facts. A couple of Swedish journalists sent me links to reports in the so-called MSM. I tried to read both … but, in each case, hit a paywall. One wanted me to commit to £9 a month before it would allow me to read the article; the other wanted nearly twice as much.

Chaotic information was free: good information was expensive.

In the horizontal world of twenty-first-century communications – where anyone can publish anything – the germs about rape in Malmo spread indiscriminately and freely. The virus was halfway round the world and the truth had barely even found its boots. Truth – if that’s what journalism offered – was living in a gated community.

But the truth mattered. The idea that immigrants would reward a society’s compassion by barbarically raping its women could – if true – profoundly shape popular attitudes and political responses to immigration in Sweden and beyond. That was especially true now Donald Trump – and numerous white nationalists and their fellow travellers – were using the country as a prime exhibit of the dangers of open borders.

I did my best, as a non-Swedish speaker, to establish some facts. For a start, who was @PeterSweden7? Many of those exploiting the horrific lighter fuel story belonged to far-right extremist groups around the world. @PeterSweden7’s previous tweets gave some clue to his politics: ‘I don’t like fascism, but i think hitler had some good points. I am pretty certain that the holocaust actually never happened.’14 Or another: ‘The globalists (mainly Jews) are ones bringing in the Muslims to europe. They seem to work together.’15 He had 81,000 followers on Twitter, growing at a rate of 10,000 a month.

I contacted @PeterSweden7, who appears in real life to be Peter Imanuelsen, a 22-year-old photographer born in Norway, but possibly living, at least some of the time, in North Yorkshire. He told a website called hopenothate.org.uk that his Holocaust denial was simply a phase brought about by realising that ‘mainstream media was lying about everything’. Imanuelsen described this website as ‘fake news’. His own website claims to be ‘real independent journalism’.16

Via Twitter he repeated to me that Swedish media hadn’t gone into detail ‘on the horrible things the girl suffered’. I asked his source. He replied that ‘word has gotten around in Malmo about the details and locals in Malmo have taken to social media to say what happened’.

So, a combination of local rumour and gossip, amplified instantly by horizontal transmission.

He later pointed me to a Facebook posting by a 37-year-old Chicago-educated researcher, Tino Sanandaji, who is considered to be the most prominent social media critic of Sweden’s immigration policies, and also of the established media.

I tracked down Sanandaji. He had, indeed, blogged about the incident to his 76,000 followers. He said he had two sources, ‘one citing the police investigation and one friend of the family … the same rumour was also on social media’. He was ‘fairly sure’ about his information, and he thought he had a duty to warn girls in the area after three rapes in Malmo in the space of seven weeks.

But here was the rub. Sanandaji claimed that the detail that had caused such revulsion and sent the germ around the world was not in his Facebook posting in its original Swedish, ‘underliv’ – or so he claimed. He claimed to have written that a source had told him that the victim’s ‘abdomen’ had been sprayed with fuel. By the time it had been picked up and redistributed by a Canadian-based British ‘journalist’ working for the alt-right website Breitbart, ‘abdomen’ had become ‘vagina’.17 Whether Sanandaji’s finger-pointing at Breitbart was correct; or whether there had been inadequate automatic translation or distortion by Breitbart was difficult to establish. The Breitbart writer declined to comment.

In any event, it was untrue. Within days the police addressed the social media rumours and announced that – while the victim had other minor physical injuries – these did not include burns to the lower abdomen.18 Within a few weeks police announced they had dropped another rape investigation after the woman admitted the attack had never happened.19 Investigations into the ‘lighter fuel’ case were closed a few months later, with the police saying they could not show what actually happened, let alone who the offenders were.

Now, none of this is to minimise the severity of the attack, or attacks. The women of Malmo took to the streets to show how they refused to be intimidated. At the time of writing it was not known if Muslims were behind this, or any other, rape in Malmo. It was very difficult for an ordinary reader to reach a definitive conclusion about whether there was a link between increased immigration and increased rape reports in Sweden – though a painstaking investigation by Dagens Nyheter in May 2018 found no such correlation between them.

But if the facts were elusive, the digital world had transmitted half-truths and lies at a speed and scale that would have been unimaginable even a decade earlier. The patient work of journalists to take time to discover what actually happened was buried in the avalanche of rumour – and then invisible except to the relatively tiny minority who still cared enough for old-fashioned facts to pay for them.

When challenged about their own role in spreading unchecked information, most of the pollinators seemed unbothered. Godfrey Bloom told me his attitude was the same as all other users of Twitter: ‘It is a lavatory wall.’

There were, if you looked hard enough, calm pieces to be found on the subject, some of them involving detailed work with available data. The BBC – freely available to all – investigated Farage’s claim about Malmo being ‘the rape capital of Europe’ and concluded that the high level of reported rape was ‘mainly due to the strictness of Swedish laws and how rape is recorded in the country’.20 The Dagens Nyheter analysis agreed.

Bad information was everywhere: good information was increasingly for smaller elites. It was harder for good information to compete on equal terms with bad.

The more invisible decent journalists became, the easier it was to denigrate their work. They became part of the problem – an out of touch elite. Lamestream media. Fake news. Failing. Lies. They’re all the same. Enough of experts. Drain the swamp.

It caught on.

* * *

By 2017 the newspaper industry in many parts of the world was a sickly thing. The advertising dollars that, for a century or more, had supported independent journalism were draining away and, in many communities, the local newspaper that once blazed a search beam now cast a flickering torchlight.

The New York Times still shone brightly – and it was the New York Times that the new president targeted: doing his obsessive best to denigrate and damn its reporting as fake. By the end of his first year in office, the new president had himself – in the eyes of dogged scorers – made nearly 2,000 false or misleading statements. He broke through the 3,000 barrier within 466 days, according to the Washington Post – a rate of 6.5 false claims a day. Americans had elected a liar, and now the liar turned his guns on the truth.

Within days of Trump’s triumph questions were asked about the role of truth in the election. It transpired that many of the top-performing news stories on social media platforms such as Facebook were fake – generated by hoax sites and hyper-partisan blogs. BuzzFeed reporters identified more than 140 pro-Trump websites being run from a single town in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

The economic model for true news might have been failing, but there were numerous incentives – political and financial – for creating untrue news. Indeed, the market in sensationalist, conspiratorial and alarmist junk seemed to thrive in inverse proportion to the fortunes of the old media houses trying to plod the path of traditional reporting. The new automated distribution channels of social media turbo-charged the power of junk. Even before the election the World Economic Forum had identified the rapid spread of misinformation as one of the top ten perils to society – alongside cybercrime and climate change.

By 2017 social media had existed for barely a decade – a blink of the eye in the sweep of human communication, but long enough for a generation to grow up knowing no other world. Among those who had known another age there developed a kind of panic as they contemplated chaotic information systems that seemed to have emerged from nowhere.

Information chaos was, in itself, frightening enough. What made it truly alarming was that the chaos was enabled, shaped and distributed by a handful of gargantuan corporations, which – in that same blink of an eye – had become arguably the most powerful organisations the world had ever seen.

* * *

How did we get here? And how could we get back to where we once belonged?

For 20 years I edited a newspaper in the throes of this tumultuous revolution. The paper I took over in 1995 was composed of words printed on newsprint involving technologies that had changed little since Victorian times.

It was, in many ways, a vertically arranged world. We – the organs of information – owned printing presses and, with them, the exclusive power to hand down the news we had gathered. The readers handed up the money – and so did advertisers, who had few other ways of reaching our audience.

To be a journalist in these times was bliss – for us, anyway. I’m afraid we felt a bit superior to those without the same access to information that we enjoyed. It was easy to confuse our privileged access to information with ‘authority’ or ‘expertise’. And when the floodgates opened – and billions of people also gained access to information and could publish themselves – journalism struggled to adjust.

Newspapers began to die in front of our eyes.

Societies may not have loved or admired journalists very much but they seemed to acknowledge that it was vital to have truthful and reliable sources of information. The fundamental importance to any community of reliable, unfettered news was one of the most important Enlightenment values.

It still is – or should be. But the significant money is – for the vast majority of news organisations – gone.

We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news – at least as it used to be understood. There has never been more information in the world. We know infinitely more than ever before. There is a new democracy of knowledge that has swept over us so suddenly and so overwhelmingly that it is almost impossible to glimpse, let alone comprehend. Much of it is liberating, energising and transformative. It is a revolution to rival the invention of movable type in the fifteenth century. And much of it is poisonous and dangerous. Some of it – like the Swedish saga – is sort-of-slightly-true enough to be turned into toxic demagoguery.

In the new horizontal world people are no longer so dependent on the ‘wisdom’ of a few authority figures. The reach and speed of public connectedness is unbeatable by any media organisation on earth. Journalists, business and politicians are left looking out of touch and flat-footed.

‘People in this country have had enough of experts,’ said the (former Times of London journalist and Oxford-educated) Conservative politician Michael Gove, shortly before a referendum in which the British people defied expert opinion by voting to leave the European Union. In a way Gove was stating no more than the obvious at the end of an ugly, noisy campaign in which neither verifiable facts nor the opinion of Nobel-prize winning economists seemed any longer to count for much.

Old vertical media derided this new post-factual free-for-all. And, in a way, they were right. But much of the old media was itself biased, hectoring, blinkered and – it its own way – post-factual. Old journalism took it for granted that people would recognise its value – even its necessity. But the denizens of new media found it too easy to pick holes in the processes and fallibilities of ‘professional’ news.

There were admirable, brave, serious, truthful journalists out there, some of them willing to die for their craft. But the commercial and ownership models of mass communication had also created oceans of rubbish which, in lazy shorthand, was also termed ‘journalism’.

The new horizontal forms of digital connection were flawed, but – as with the rise of populist movements in the US and much of Europe – they were sometimes, and in some ways, closer to public opinion than conventional forms of media were capable of seeing, let alone articulating.

We can barely begin to glimpse the implications of this sea change in mass communications. Our language struggles to capture the enormity of what has been happening. ‘Social media’ is a pallid catch-all phrase which equates in most minds to the ephemeral postings on Twitter and Facebook. But ‘social media’ is also empowering people who were never heard, creating a new form of politics and turning traditional news corporations inside out.

It is impossible to think of Donald Trump, of Brexit, of Bernie Sanders, of Podemos, of the growth of the far right in Europe, of the spasms of hope and violent despair in the Middle East and North Africa, without thinking also of the total inversion of how news is created, shared and distributed.

Much of it is liberating and inspiring. Some of it is ugly and dark. And something – the centuries-old craft of journalism – is in danger of being lost.

And all this has happened within 20 years – the blink of an eye. This is a problem for journalism, but it is an even bigger problem for society. The new news that is replacing ‘journalism’ is barely understood. But it is here to stay and is revolutionising not only systems of information but also the most basic concepts of authority and power.

The transformation precisely coincided with the time I was editing the Guardian.

This book describes what it felt like to be at the eye of this storm. A tornado can turn a house into toothpicks – and there was certainly a violent destructiveness to the forces that were being unleashed all around. But there was also exhilaration. Our generation had been handed the challenge of rethinking almost everything societies had, for centuries, taken for granted about journalism.

I had spent the past 40 years as a journalist and ended my career believing as strongly as ever that reliable, unpolluted information is as necessary to a community as a legal system, an army or a police force. But at the moment of its greatest existential crisis, how much journalism lived up to the crying need for it? And were enough journalists alive to the need to rethink everything they did?

I became editor in 1995 – taking charge of a comparatively small British newspaper. We printed stories on newsprint, produced once a day. By the time I stepped down 20 years later, that world had been turned upside down. By then, just 6 per cent of young (18- to 24-year-old) readers were getting their news from print; 65 per cent were relying on online sources, including social media, for their news. Nor was it just the young. Twice as many over-55-year-olds preferred online to print. In 1995 most journalists had just discovered they could use a phone to send text messages. By 2015 well over half their younger readers were using phones to read their news.

In 1995 it was given that (with the exception of television and radio) your readers expected to pay for news. By 2016, only 45 per cent of news consumers paid for a newspaper even once a week. A small minority (9 per cent in the US, less in the UK) was paying for any online news source.

The old order had, in the space of 20 years, been broken by this Force-12 hurricane of disruption. A new order was forming. The consequences for democracy were becoming all too apparent. We made choices without the benefit of hindsight. There was little data and no roadmap. We made plenty of mistakes; we got some things right. As the editorial floor reimagined journalism, so our commercial colleagues grappled with new business realities. The day-to-day work of news gathering went on as all of us tried to work out how on earth to steer a path into the future … not even knowing if there would be one, but determined to try. This was life at a sort of frontier.

In 2015 I stepped down from editing and moved to Oxford University. As well as heading a college, I became Chair of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. I belatedly discovered a considerable academic literature analysing the implications and fall-out of this revolution. But – oddly, for an industry of writers – there seemed to have been few attempts to describe what it felt like from the inside.

This is a universal story. Virtually every newsroom will have been confronted with the same dilemmas. The Guardian’s response is, in some ways, not typical. We were owned by a Trust, not shareholders. We did not have the quarter-by-quarter financial reporting pressures that led so many newspapers to, almost literally, decimate their journalistic resources. But nor were we a charity. The existence of a Trust – channelling money from other companies to subsidise the Guardian’s journalism where necessary – simply meant we were at least able to run on to the same playing field with what some called ‘the billionaire press’,21 whose proprietors also took apparently expensive long-term decisions in order to grapple with a route to the future.

But that was the limit of our cushion. During the narrative of this book, the money very nearly ran out as the post-Lehman crash coincided with an advertising slump and the restructuring of the endowment which, for 75 years, had been there to keep the Guardian going. If the Guardian had taken the same risks as, say, Rupert Murdoch – they included buying MySpace, launching an iPad newspaper and unsuccessfully attempting to paywall the Sun – we would have been comprehensively wiped out. And, of course, our available funds were peanuts compared with the sums speculated to launch the West Coast tech giants who would ultimately pose an existential threat to all legacy news providers.

I have tried to capture the turbulence and challenges. And I have tried – while there is still a fresh collective memory – to describe what a news organisation felt like, and why its institutional quality mattered.

Great reporters are rightly celebrated. But they are – generally – only as good as the institution that supports them. If their reporting genuinely challenges power, they will need organisational courage behind them. They will need sharp-eyed text editors and ingenious lawyers. They may require people with sophisticated technological or security know-how. If they get into trouble they may need immediate logistical, medical, legal, financial or PR back-up. They need wise colleagues who have been in the same situations before. If they are lucky, they will have enlightened and strong commercial leaders to support and protect them; and gifted business minds who can bring in the money – but also observe the boundaries that preserve trust.

I was lucky enough to have worked for an institution that looked like that. In the middle of the turmoil I think we produced some great journalism that truly mattered. This is a record of those times.

The book also sets out the challenge for journalism. Journalists no longer have a near-monopoly on news and the means of distribution. The vertical world is gone for ever. Journalists no longer stand on a platform above their readers. They need to find a new voice. They have to regain trust. Journalism has to rethink its methods; reconfigure its relationship with the new kaleidoscope of other voices. It has to be more open about what it does and how it does it.

In a sense Donald Trump has done journalism a favour. In his cavalier disregard for truth he has reminded people why societies need to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. At their best, journalists do that job well. They can now harness almost infinite resources to help them.

But, at the same time, we have created the most prodigious capability for spreading lies the world has ever seen. And the economic system for supporting journalism looks dangerously unstable. The stakes for truth have never been higher.


Copyright © 2018 by Alan Rusbridger