What Is Happening to News

  There’s no shortage of books out now about the future of journalism, approximately one book per hand wrung. Former Chicago Tribune editor and...

 

There’s no shortage of books out now about the future of journalism, approximately one book per hand wrung. Former Chicago Tribune editor and Trib Publishing president Fuller now throws his fedora into the ring, taking a markedly different approach. Whereas previous books have assessed the shifting technological landscape and recommended changes to fit the newest media, Fuller takes a decidedly old-school approach. Like, Aristotle old-school.

There’s no shortage of books out now about the future of journalism, approximately one book per hand wrung. Former Chicago Tribune editor and Trib Publishing president Fuller now throws his fedora into the ring, taking a markedly different approach. Whereas previous books have assessed the shifting technological landscape and recommended changes to fit the newest media, Fuller takes a decidedly old-school approach. Like, Aristotle old-school.

In fact, What Is Happening to News is more philosophical treatise than it is call to arms. Fuller combs through findings in neuroscience that hint at why the public feeds off scandal rather than the more satiating enterprising journalism its practitioners want to serve them. That means Fuller occasionally writes sentences like this: “Novelty and negativity can put certain things at the top of the mind and, through the operation of the availability heuristic, mislead a journalist into believing they are more probable than more positive things.”

Essentially, Fuller finds a tentative solution in a return to and reinvestment in (slightly updated) journalism-school values: Distrust authority, present a story with acknowledgment of your own limitations, let objectivity give way to a stronger moral compunction toward truth. In other words: Be a good, human journalist. If that’s not the most elucidating take on what’s happening to news, that’s because Fuller has gotten lost in the old philosopher’s trap of talking between texts. I love a good Karl Popper quote as much as the next guy, and journalism could use a good philosophical scrubbing, but hasn’t journalism’s problem been its persistent navel-gazing and myopic self-regard? Is Husserl going to hustle us out of that? Shouldn’t there be a question mark at the end of that title? Maybe then, Fuller would provide some clearer answers.

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