Echo and the Newspaper men
Updated: Apr 16, 2021
What newspaper you read will depend on a variety of factors – interest, political leanings, style etc.
In a sense, in choosing what to read, we have made the decision to whittle down the abundance of sources available to us.
Nevertheless, whatever our news source of choice (whether digital or in print), there will be a broad selection of stories and opinions to which we are exposed.
Despite one’s view of a certain paper's quality, newspapers do provide exposure to viewpoints and stories that we may not like. This is unlike pure digital and social media channels which ‘learn’ pretty quickly what we do ‘like’, and so feed us accordingly.
That is not to say that many of us don’t already pass over stories in papers that don’t fit with our way of thinking. It’s just that digital media outlets can often serve as an echo chamber.
So, it is with some amazement I read that a leading UK newspaper is contemplating turning itself into an echo chamber pot.
Yesterday’s Guardian reported The Daily Telegraph “wants to link some elements of journalists’ pay to the popularity of their articles in a plan said to have “alarmed and dismayed” staff who fear it will “seriously warp our editorial priorities”.
Admittedly, The Guardian is diametrically opposed to The Daily Telegraph so cue the quotes of ire from its sources. However, a direct quote from the paper's editor telling staff that it wants to use a “stars” system to score stories published online based on clicks and ensuing subscriptions they generate, prompts the word ‘clickbait’.
Linking this to reward, which the editor implies, only ups the ante.
While this is merely in the stage of rumination, the potential effect will be to shrink the range of stories based on their popularity, which is uncomfortable.
We are already in an echo chamber. Why extend that further?
If we really want to have open minds, we need to be challenged by reading (or at least have a chance of reading) about matters that we don’t perhaps wish to hear.