What is the future of journalism in the age of President Trump? We wrestled with this question today at the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards (TDIA), part of the Tribeca Film Festival. As a Disruptor Fellow, I helped lead the conversation with Judy Miller (foreign policy analyst and Bold friend) of Fox News and Erica Anderson of Google News Lab.
It was fascinating to hear how people in the venture capital and tech industries responded to questions of what type of content should be subsidized and promulgated and whether media companies can or should have any influence in the type of content Americans consume.
I argued that yes, we as media creators shouldn’t be agnostic in how we approach both the investment/business side and the editorial side of content. I brought up the courageous work of my mentor Al Sikes, a Bold Contributor and former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). During his time at the FCC, Sikes fought to protect young minds from the misogyny of Howard Stern, who was moved from the open airwaves behind a satellite paywall.
The TDIA is named in honor of the 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. Craig Hatkoff, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, joined with Christensen to create TDIA in tandem with the film festival. TDIA highlights and celebrates disruptive innovation across disparate sectors, everything from tech and politics to education and religion, sports, fashion and philanthropy.
It was a bit telling that some folks in the TDIA journalism room felt the decentralized nature of the Internet and social media made it simply impossible to adequately pursue truth. Yet there is a far difference between repression of free speech and the monetization of socially-corrosive values. And I don’t buy the excuse of decentralization or social media ubiquity; we do not throw our hands up and stop fighting online against child pornography, wire fraud, acts of violence and other online social ills. Of course we can’t stop the existence of evil, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do everything we can to both promote social cohesion in pursuit of our national motto, E pluribus unum: “Out of many, One.” Too often we allow our culture to become apathetically immersed in online cacophony, the pluribus, and don’t pursue unum.
A morally-ambivalent reliance on algorithm and rigid ideology is happening on both sides of the aisle. The values of objectivity and fair representation fall by the wayside; there is no true, bipartisan dialogue in these schools of thought. Whether it’s the leftist motivation behind the founding of The Huffington Post, an institution that Harvard Business School reported was launched explicitly with the goal of electing Democratic presidents, or the expansion of Breitbart in 2016, media for the sake of balance rather than political agenda is becoming a rare breed. The same goes for tech-infused media printing money for its own sake rather than protecting the public from fake news and other content that erodes social capital–the connective tissue of a healthy and cohesive body politic.
America deserves better, and this is a future we are empowered to create. It’s one we are striving to build every day at Bold.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others.
I read this, was approaching the end and was like “Nice spin!” Good job Carrie.
What was highlighted as disruptive media though?
And how to do you disrupt 99.99% noise / static and let the .01% make its way through a web of congestion so it isn’t lost?
I feel there isn’t enough context and I need to know more.
You’re back! 🙂 There were some bigwig media execs (almost entirely liberal) on content/biz and they clearly have a track record of creating signal through the noise, e.g. profitable media businesses. Now they have to deal with the mess they created in terms of the social divisions sown by decades of cultural disruption since the 1960s. I hope they will find a healthy way to swing more to the middle from the overshooting of the hippy era.