Latest Articles


25.05.2016
Seyla Benhabib

Critique of humanitarian reason

Never have there been more refugees in the world as today: an estimated 45 million in total. So what's the current relationship between international law, emancipatory politics and the rights of the rightless? Seyla Benhabib on the urgent need to create new political vistas. [Estonian version added] [ more ]

24.05.2016
Martha Albertson Fineman, Mirjam Katzin

The human condition

24.05.2016
Camille Robcis, Aro Velmet

Universalist politics and its crises

20.05.2016
Robin Detje

Impertinence, beauty, opposition

Eurozine Review


18.05.2016
Eurozine Review

Stand fast and hold firm

"Kultura Liberalna" speaks to Anne Applebaum; "Osteuropa" analyses Poland's conservative revolution; "Wespennest" devotes an issue to the charismatic hormone, testosterone; "Esprit" wonders what's next after western Middle East fatigue; "Arena" asks if art is important; "Merkur" listens to echoes of Victor Hugo; and "RozRazil" goes to the pub.

04.05.2016
Eurozine Review

It's something new

20.04.2016
Eurozine Review

Leaping the boundaries

06.04.2016
Eurozine Review

Drastic measures

23.03.2016
Eurozine Review

Unholy alliances



http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-05-02-newsitem-en.html
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-12-02-newsitem-en.html
http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262025248
http://www.eurozine.com/about/who-we-are/contact.html

My Eurozine


If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Articles
Share |


Bad news for the news

The good news is: the digital revolution has revitalized journalism. The bad news: nobody wants to pay for it. With the Internet undermining the economic basis of professional reporting, the freedom of the press in western democracies is at stake, warns American sociologist Paul Starr.

The digital revolution, as great as its wonders are, is a mixed blessing for democracy. It has unquestionably been good for freedom of expression – for the free expression, that is, of opinion. It has also been good for freedom of information – that is, for making previously secret or inaccessible information more widely available. But it has not been uniformly good for freedom of the press, if we understand that freedom as referring not merely to the formal legal rights but to the real independence of the press as an institution.

The digital revolution has been good for freedom of expression because it has increased the diversity of voices in the public sphere. It has been good for freedom of information because it has fostered a culture that demands transparency. But the digital revolution has both revitalized and weakened freedom of the press. It has revitalized journalism by allowing new entrants into the media and generated promising innovations, and in countries where the press has been stifled, that effect is the most important.

Changing media -- Media in change


Media-technological developments are causing a fundamental re-structuring of the newspaper and book publishing sectors, with traditional media locked in fierce competition with online newcomers for market superiority. Yet media change is about more than the "newspaper crisis" and the iPad: property law, privacy, free speech and the functioning of the public sphere are all affected. [ more ]
But in the established democracies, the digital revolution has weakened the ability of the press to act as an effective agent of public accountability by undermining the economic basis of professional reporting and fragmenting the public. If we take seriously the idea that an independent press serves an essential democratic function, its institutional distress may weaken democracy itself.

That is the danger that confronts us in the advanced societies: throughout the post-industrial world, the news media face a long-term crisis that social theory did not anticipate.

Beginning in the 1970s, theories of post-industrial society projected a flourishing and happy future for the fields associated with the production of knowledge and information. The most influential theories of contemporary political development also did not anticipate a crisis in the news media that would pose a problem for democracy. As the 20th century came to a close, the collapse of communism gave rise to increased confidence – even triumphalism – about the future of liberal democracy and its institutions. The new media initially seemed to reinforce that confidence. As the digital revolution developed, its theorists argued that it inevitably creates a more open, networked public sphere, thereby strengthening democratic values and practices.

In short, all of these perspectives have suggested that in the post-industrial world, a free press and democracy would thrive together.

Social theorists were not alone in their optimism. The professionals and executives in the news media were also confident about the prospects for growth in their industry.

Through the last decades of the 20th century, the economic trends supported these expectations. Like the other knowledge-producing professions, journalism expanded, and the news media prospered. With personal computers and the Internet, the costs of producing and distributing media of all kinds diminished, and previously marginalized groups and individuals could bypass the old mass-media gatekeepers in reaching a wider public.

But in recent years, the contemporary transformation has taken a darker turn for journalism and for democratic government more generally. Several long-term trends have combined to weaken the finances of the news media and to reduce professional employment in journalism. A recent OECD study reports that over the decade ending in 2007, the number of newspaper journalists declined 53 percent in Norway, 41 in the Netherlands, 25 in Germany, and 11 percent in Sweden, while holding steady in France and Britain. In the US, the number of journalists has fallen from 56 000 to 40 000, according to recent estimates.

Everywhere, the media are under severe financial stress. The data on revenue for newspapers, magazines, and other news media in the rich democracies typically show a pattern of growth through the last three decades of the 20th century, a peak around the year 2000, and then a decline in the past decade.

The expectation that the news media would flourish in post-industrial society failed to take into account certain economic realities, social trends already in progress, and emerging technologies. The prevailing optimism ignored the reality that information, including news, is a public good and that public goods tend to be systematically under-produced in the market. The prevailing optimism failed to consider that the news media had been able to overcome the public-goods problem, with varying degrees of success, only because existing communication technologies had limited the ways for the public to find information and entertainment and for advertisers to reach consumers. And even though it should have been clear that new technologies would expand the choices for both advertisers and the public, hardly anyone anticipated that in this new environment, the public would fragment, the audience for public-affairs news would shrink, advertisers would be able to reach their markets without sponsoring news, and the traditional commercial basis for financing journalism would be shattered.

The changes in the public and the demand for news are showing up in generational differences. Older generations that formed their habits decades ago continue to read print newspapers and watch television news at an appointed hour, but young people are not forming those habits in the first place. As a result, the traditional media find themselves living off aging audiences, even as they continue to supply most of the original reporting.

These developments are not playing out exactly the same way everywhere. With its primarily commercial media and very high level of generational change, the US may be more exposed to a crisis in the news media than are European countries with strong public-service broadcasting institutions and slower rates of generational change in media use. After a period when the media in Europe were moving closer to an American model, the media in America may be moving in a more European direction – not with government subsidies, but with more philanthropic support. American journalism is also becoming more partisan, more polarized, and more distrusted.

It is all very humbling for the American news media, which have not exactly been modest about their achievements. Their current troubles may cause a certain Schadenfreude here in Europe, where at least in Austria and some other countries things may appear more stable. But to use a phrase from a famous Austrian-American economist, Joseph Schumpeter, the gales of creative destruction are blowing, they are likely to sweep everywhere, and how much creation and how much destruction there will be remains to be seen. What may be good for the news media as businesses may not always be good for democracy; in fact, what may be good for the business of news may not always be good for journalism. Democracy may need to find new ways both to support journalism and to guarantee its independence.

 



Published 2011-08-16


Original in English
Translation by Andreas Simon dos Santos
First published in IWM Post 106 (2011) English version; Transit 41 (2011) (German version)

Contributed by Transit
© Paul Starr / Transit
© Eurozine
 

Focal points     click for more

Ukraine in European dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/ukrainedialogue.html
Post-revolutionary Ukrainian society displays a unique mix of hope, enthusiasm, social creativity, collective trauma of war, radicalism and disillusionment. Two years after the country's uprising, the focal point "Ukraine in European dialogue" takes stock. [more]

Culture and the commons

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/culturecommons.html
Across Europe, citizens are engaging in new forms of cultural cooperation while developing alternative and participatory democratic practices. The commons is where cultural and social activists meet a broader public to create new ways of living together. [more]

2016 Jean Améry Prize collection

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/jeanameryprize2016.html
To coincide with the awarding of the 2016 Jean Améry Prize for European essay writing, Eurozine publishes essays by authors nominated for the prize, including by a representative selection of Eurozine partner journals. [more]

Ukraine: Beyond conflict stories

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/ukraine_beyond_conflict4.html
Follow the critical, informed and nuanced voices that counter the dominant discourse of crisis concerning Ukraine. A media exchange project linking Ukrainian independent media with "alternative" media in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece. [more]

The politics of privacy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/privacy.html
The Snowden leaks and the ensuing NSA scandal made the whole world debate privacy and data protection. Now the discussion has entered a new phase - and it's all about policy. A focal point on the politics of privacy: claiming a European value. [more]

Beyond Fortress Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
The fate of migrants attempting to enter Fortress Europe has triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights. A focal point featuring reportage alongside articles on policy and memory. With contributions by Fabrizio Gatti, Seyla Benhabib and Alessandro Leogrande. [more]

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
Eurozine
In memoriam: Ales Debeljak (1961-2016)

http://www.eurozine.com/blog/in-memoriam-ales-debeljak-1961-2016/
On 28 January 2016, Ales Debeljak died in a car crash in Slovenia. He will be much missed as an agile and compelling essayist, a formidable public speaker and a charming personality. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Neda Deneva, Constantina Kouneva, Irina Nedeva and Yavor Siderov
Does migration intensify distrust in institutions?

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/does-migration-intensify-distrust-in-institutions/
How do migration and institutional mistrust relate to one another? As a new wave of populism feeds on and promotes fears of migration, aggrandising itself through the distrust it sows, The Red House hosts a timely debate with a view to untangling the key issues. [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Editor's choice     click for more

Jürgen Habermas, Michaël Foessel
Critique and communication: Philosophy's missions

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2015-10-16-habermas-en.html
Decades after first encountering Anglo-Saxon perspectives on democracy in occupied postwar Germany, Jürgen Habermas still stands by his commitment to a critical social theory that advances the cause of human emancipation. This follows a lifetime of philosophical dialogue. [more]

Literature     click for more

Karl Ove Knausgård
Out to where storytelling does not reach

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-04-03-knausgard-en.html
To write is to write one's way through the preconceived and into the world on the other side, to see the world as children can, as fantastic or terrifying, but always rich and wide-open. Karl Ove Knausgård on creating literature. [more]

Jonathan Bousfield
Growing up in Kundera's Central Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
Jonathan Bousfield talks to three award-winning novelists who spent their formative years in a Central Europe that Milan Kundera once described as the kidnapped West. It transpires that small nations may still be the bearers of important truths. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Law and Border. House Search in Fortress Europe
The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Conversano, 3-6 October 2014

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
Eurozine's 2014 conference in southern Italy, not far from Lampedusa, addressed both EU refugee and immigration policies and intellectual partnerships across the Mediterranean. Speakers included Italian investigative journalist Fabrizio Gatti and Moroccan feminist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rita El Khayat. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


powered by publick.net