The Changing Ecosystem of News and Challenges for Freedom of the Press

57 Pages Posted: 23 May 2019 Last revised: 11 Jul 2019

Date Written: April 25, 2019

Abstract

The ecosystem of news has changed beyond the imagination of anyone living when the First Amendment was drafted. Changes in the private industry of the press leave some communities with no local news coverage.A majority of people in the United States now receive news selected for them by a computer-based mathematical formula derived from their past interests, producing echo chambers with few opportunities to learn, understand, or believe what others are hearing as news. Traditional news media—now called “legacy media”—is shrinking, cutting staff, and relying on freelancers. Meanwhile, digital platforms surge in usage, profits, and revenues from advertising, which are used to stimulate engagement and collect data to further target users. This contributes to a world in which fewer than one-third of those surveyed trust mass media to report the news fully and accurately—the lowest number since such surveys began. The recent indictment of thirteen Russians for disrupting the 2016 United States presidential election by spreading divisive and false messages through Facebook, Google, and Twitter underscores what Alexander Meiklejohn put so well: reliable press expression is fundamental to democratic self-governance. What can be done when transformations in technology, economics, and communications jeopardize the production and distribution of, and trust in, news that is essential in a democratic society?

Suggested Citation

Minow, Martha, The Changing Ecosystem of News and Challenges for Freedom of the Press (April 25, 2019). Loyola Law Review, New Orleans, Forthcoming; Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 19-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3378150

Martha Minow (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts Avenue
Griswold 200
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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