It’s almost conventional wisdom right now that the news media is a fast-moving crisis, with mainstream news sources collapsing and Americans increasingly divided not only in what they read, but even what facts they choose to believe. How much worse will it get? Or is there a way out?
The changes in the media industry make it nearly impossible to guess. When POLITICO was born 15 years ago, a digital-first politics site was considered downright disruptive in Washington, D.C. Today, that sounds almost quaint compared to what was on the way: Facebook was a baby, and Instagram was just a twinkle in a code developer’s eye. “Pandemic” meant the Spanish Flu of 1918 — and “Zoom” was a kids’ show from the ’70s. Information now flows in ways nobody was even considering in 2007, and over the next decade and a half, media is poised to change even more dramatically.
How? We at POLITICO Magazine decided to take advantage of our milestone — our 15th birthday — to press some experts and media thinkers on what media will look like in the next 15 years. What will be the biggest transformations — and how will they affect our public life? Are you optimistic? If so, how do we get to the good part? If you’re concerned, what can we do to avoid the worst outcomes?
Here’s what they had to say.
An Inescapable Flow of Content
Nicholas Carr is the author of “The Shallows” and “The Glass Cage,” among other books. He teaches at Williams College.
When shunted through digital media, information behaves like water: It flows together, it melds and it finds its lowest common level. The trivial blurs with the profound, the false with the true. The news bulletin and the dance meme travel in the same stream, with the same weight. Content collapses.
As traditional distinctions between different forms of information dissolve, not only does politics become a form of entertainment, but entertainment becomes a form of politics. Our choices about what we watch, read and listen to, on display through our online profiles and posts, become statements about ourselves and our beliefs, signifiers of our tribal allegiance.
Fed into the sorting algorithms of companies like Meta, Google and Twitter, our past choices also become the template for the information we receive in the future. Each of us gets locked into our own self-defining feedback loop. Bias gets amplified, context gets lost.
Barring an epochal change of heart or habit on the part of the public, the flow of information will only get faster and more discordant in the years ahead. Even if the current hype about the so-called metaverse never pans out, the technologies of augmented and virtual reality will advance quickly. The information-dispensing screen, or hologram, will always be in view.
The founding of POLITICO was not the most fateful media event that took place fifteen years ago, in January of 2007. That was also the month that Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, a device that would come to make media a constant presence in people’s lives. Fifteen years from now, in January of 2037, media will be even more inescapable. It will have become a permanent, seamless overlay on reality, a warped window through which we see the world.
A Generation Grows Up in the Social Swamp
Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America and the author of “Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All.”
The biggest, most dramatic transformation in media over the next 15 years will be the coming of age of an audience born and raised in an ocean of news and information, consumed almost entirely via social media. By 2035, most adults will have no memory of a time before polarized cable news coverage, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and endless other attention-grabbing media sources yet to be invented. Media consumers will be divided into three groups. A dwindling cohort will remain moored in trusted and traditional news brands they encountered through their parents, educators or a firm appetite for solid information. Most Americans will be in the swollen ranks of the informationally adrift — those lacking the means or energy to discern meaningful signals amid a cacophony that encompasses serious journalism, opinion writing, perpetual hot takes, corporate advertising, paid promotions, bloviations, disinformation and propaganda campaigns, much of which is deliberately disguised to sound like something else. A final group will be informationally marooned — in the thrall of conspiracy theories and fakery reinforced by the archipelago-like fragmentation of social media that makes them almost impossible to reach with the truth.
The key to managing this transformation is maximizing the cohort of young people anchored in credible news and information sources. Countless programs and studies have by now discerned what it takes to equip citizens to navigate the digital swamp; the goal is to bring those efforts to scale, grounding an entire generation in facts, science, basic research skills and — above all — a fundamental refusal to be fooled. Schools and colleges need to teach students the markers of reliable reporting, how to ascertain the provenance of a piece of information and be their own fact-checkers. We need to transform ourselves to get a handle on today and tomorrow’s media rather than letting evolving forms of information and engagement continue to transform us for the worse.
A Search for ‘Solutions Journalism’
Richard Prince, a veteran journalist, writes “Journal-isms,” an online column about diversity issues in the news business.
Journalism will move closer to being part of the solution. Too often, as part of the power structure, it has exacerbated the problem.
Attempts to forecast the future are risky. Who would have predicted the reckoning wrought by the murder of George Floyd, or the internet’s “information wants to be free” mantra that endangered legacy media?
Still, we can trust the census predictions that whites in the United States will become a minority in 2045, and plan for the change that will mean in the demographics of news consumers.
There are other trends. Foremost is the splintering of the news audience by ideology. The multiplicity of platforms is another. Broadcast television and cable are making way for streaming.
News deserts keep growing. Hedge funds continue to acquire local news operations and cut staffs.
Collaborations are increasing, whether globally, as with the Pandora Papers project in which reporting teams worked together to expose corruption, or the Dallas Morning News partnering with the Texas Metro News, a Black-press outlet. Each helps supply what’s missing in the other.
Will the repression of news media worldwide persist? Joel Simon, former executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, reported at the end of 2021 that record numbers of journalists are imprisoned, and that governments “are waging a frontal assault against independent journalism around the world.”
There is room for optimism. News consumers want “solutions journalism.” Don’t just tell them the problem; what can they do about it? When those news consumers are increasingly people of color and others previously marginalized, a richer news report should result. Let’s sharpen our defenses against misinformation. Ramp up the research. Put in charge those who champion the interests of those who’ve been missing at the top.
The Heavy Hand of Government Arrives
Nicholas Lemann teaches at Columbia Journalism School, where he is dean emeritus, and is a staff writer at the New Yorker.
All industries, even industries populated by liberals, resist government regulation of themselves. Journalism and media are an extreme example, because so many journalists and media owners (of my generation, at least) were raised on the idea that the First Amendment gives us an absolute protection from government interference. And this is a rare instance of the views of the newsroom and of the publisher’s office being perfectly aligned, though for different reasons.
The idea that government has no role in media was always a fantasy. Radio and television were heavily regulated for more than half a century, roughly from the 1930s through the 1980s, and even print publications are, for example, prohibited from publishing deceptive advertising. By the 1970s, deregulation had come into fashion, including among liberals, and it was in this atmosphere that cable television was created, broadcasting was deregulated and the Internet was created. It’s the world we live in now. And by 2037, it will have ended.
I’ll give three examples. Social media expression will be regulated; this has become a bipartisan cause, and it’s also an issue where non-U.S. governments, with more pro-regulatory instincts, are in the picture. There will be some form of government support for local journalism; this is already in the current version of the Build Back Better bill. And the Supreme Court will revisit the twin pillars of First Amendment law, the 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan case and the 1971 Pentagon Papers case.
Here’s a heartfelt plea to my fellow journalists: Let’s not persist in our ostrich-like avoidance of media policy (except when we say we don’t think there should be any). These developments will affect us profoundly. We can help shape them, in the interest of better journalism, but only if we fully engage in what are sure to be rough and time-consuming debates in the next few years.
The Culture War Swallows the News
Nikki Usher is an associate professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her most recent book is “News for the Rich, White, and Blue: How Place and Power Distort American Journalism.”
It’s 2037, and the expected decline in access to local news and information hasn’t happened — at least not how we thought — but the inequality between those who have access to high-quality journalism and those who don’t mirrors the even starker income inequality dividing the country. Local digital-first sites, once known as local television, have AI anchors. Audiences (wrongly) believe them to be more neutral than the humans that cover national issues, either for the Republican-backed internet or the “regular internet” now only used by Democrats and for Hollywood’s content distribution.
In Republican states, community newspapers have been replaced by a party-funded local media system that provides partisan news and information specific to a community, especially about local school boards and upcoming elections. In Democrat-majority states, legislators pump public money into the decaying news ecosystem, with journalists self-censoring any critique that might endanger the cash flow, and almost all of which flows to big population centers.
It’s actually a golden time for metropolitan journalism. In large cities, the New York Times and the Washington Post have bought up any remaining newspapers, and are going head-to-head fighting for the well-off city residents willing to pay for news. The Times and the Post are also chasing the expensive and exclusive local POLITICO and Axios outfits, who have cornered the local business and political elite (replacing the Wall Street Journal).
To appeal to the liberal elites who will pay, news outlets seem to now have a social justice focus, but journalism still remains exclusionary and oblivious to historically-marginalized groups. It’s popular for wealthy parents to complain about their “journalism runaway” offspring, who move to rural America and use their trust funds to create digital community journalism zines read only by friends and family. Luckily, these “journalism runaways” come to their senses, generally after a violent encounter with a local who destroys their self-driving electric car, and come running back to the cities to become a new generation of elite news consumers.
A New Era for Equity
Akoto Ofori-Atta and Lauren Williams
Akoto Ofori-Atta and Lauren Williams are co-founders of Capital B, which launches on Jan. 31.
The journalism industry faces a series of grave challenges: social platforms fuel political polarization, spread mis- and disinformation, and gobble up ad revenue; America’s local news ecosystem is in peril; and there’s an embarrassing lack of racial, regional and social economic diversity in U.S. newsrooms. Combined, these challenges mean that quality journalism doesn’t always reach those who need it most, especially Black and brown people and those with low incomes.
But as co-founders of Capital B, a startup nonprofit local and national news organization serving Black audiences across the country, we believe the next 15 years will usher in a new era for the industry, one where journalism can live up to better, more equitable standards.
A shift is already underway. Many news innovators are paving the path for more inclusive media. In Chicago, City Bureau is recruiting, training and working alongside community members to produce meaningful local journalism. In Detroit, you can text a reporter at Outlier Media and get on-demand service journalism. Resolve Philly is a collaborative journalism hub pioneering new practices for equitable journalism, and sharing the lessons they learn with industry peers.
We no longer have to rely solely on outdated business models, either. Since 2009, philanthropy in support of journalism has nearly quadrupled. The Pivot Fund is raising $500 million to support media organizations led by and serving people of color. URL Media and Word in Black are designing business models to share revenue across their networks.
Small dollar donors are supporting nonprofit newsrooms at record highs. And the idea that journalism is a public good necessary for a healthy democracy is gaining footing, undergirding the push for public policy that bolsters financial support for local news.
We started Capital B to help create the future we want to see, one where everyone has access to transparent and trustworthy journalism, and where our democracy is stronger as a result. We’re not rosy-eyed about what it will take to get there. But we’re convinced that as long as there are leaders willing to push the status quo, the future looks promising.
A Sharpening Divide Between the Haves and Have Nots
Richard Stengel is the former editor of TIME and a former undersecretary of state in the Obama administration and is the author of “Information Wars: How We Lost the Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It.”
I’ll stick to the news business, which is what I know a little bit about. I’m generally pretty bullish, but what concerns me about the future is that the news and information business will cleave into two broad categories based on audience: the Haves and the Have Nots. The Haves — the 200 or so million college educated folks around the world — will have bespoke and sophisticated content that is tailored to their individual interests that they will pay for with premium subscriptions. Heck, they’ll have online news concierges that answer their questions and create colorful pie charts and personalized tutorials. The Have Nots — pretty much everybody else — will have advertiser-supported content that is broad and less sophisticated and it will be stoked by algorithms based on emotion and eyeballs. And they will not have access to all the premium stuff — first-class journalism — which will be behind walls. This latter group will then become susceptible to ever greater quantities of mis- and disinformation while the Haves tsk-tsk about all the junk news that most everybody else is getting.
This isn’t a healthy situation for democracies. I’ve long been an advocate for a kind of E-ZPass for news — micro-charges per page — which would allow people to read what they want without onerous subscriptions. That’s the only way that most people will pay for news. If the quality press, as it used to be called, is just serving global elites, well, then the whole point of the First Amendment becomes empty. We have freedom of the press so the press can protect our democracy — not so that it can make money from high-end subscriptions. We need to think as much about the purpose of news as we think about the economic models for it. Neither is easy.
Baby Boomers and the TV Monoculture Fade Away
Tom Scocca is the editor and proprietor of Indignity.
Take one signature media-shaking event during the past 15 years: the devastating “pivot to video” everyone made chasing fraudulent Facebook advertising opportunities. No one could have seen it 15 years ago, when Facebook had only just stopped requiring an .edu address to join its social network, hoping to somehow overtake the dominant Myspace.
So it’s probably safer to look at something we all but certainly know will happen: By Census Bureau projections, between 2022 and 2037, about 23 million baby boomers — almost exactly one-third of the total cohort — will die. The generation that has enjoyed smothering dominance over the culture and the economy since the mid-20th century is going to melt away like a warming glacier. What might disappear along with all those people? Television in general, and cable news in particular, assumes that viewers will always be there passively sucking down the medium, the way the postwar babies were habituated to do.
By 2037, most Americans won’t have been alive for TV monoculture; fully fragmented video consumption will be the natural order of things. Across all media, the inertial weight of the last mass audience (and the grasping hands of the moguls who took control young and never let go) will suddenly lift. What direction will things fly off into? Don’t ask me. I was born in 1971; no one ever asks.
Embracing Local Empowerment
Lynette Clemetson is director of the Wallace House, the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards at the University of Michigan. She is a contributing editor for POLITICO.
All politics is local? Not so much anymore, and it’s costing us our democracy. Over the past fifteen years, politics has become ever more national, with much of that shift enabled by the coastal concentration of the news media. As information (and disinformation) have become more fragmented, dominant news flows have become more general, vehicles for boosting the talking points of the right and left in Washington, D.C.
The “elites” scold “regular people” for voting against their self-interest and the common good. But those things can feel elusive when stakes are not tied to consequential decisions made in their own statehouse and town council — and news on local policy is hard to find. Small and medium-sized independent news organizations are making impressive efforts across the great expanse between California and the Acela corridor. Many have been able to grow with grants from Facebook and Google, even as those behemoths continue to evade responsibility for their role in our broken information systems.
Over the next decade, major news organizations need to get in the game, hiring journalists to work — with real salaries — from where they live, reporting on communities they know. Companies with editorial and technological heft must help train reporters in the field. Not just for national stories that might get picked up by cable news channels, but for covering school boards, zoning boards, city and county councils, courts and police unions, universities, and state governments.
Big Journalism can learn lessons from enterprising journalists working on their own to cover issues like education, race and the economy at the local level, with complexity and skepticism for institutional and systemic bias. America’s Heartland, whatever that is (can we retire that term?) is ethnically, racially, socioeconomically diverse and deserves reporting that is serious enough to complicate and challenge the simple narratives that power national politics.
If we can find a balance between national news and journalism and politics that engage and empower people locally, then maybe, just maybe, we can protect — even improve — our national democracy.
Big Tech Strikes a Deal with Big Government
Tim Hwang is a writer, researcher and the author of “Subprime Attention Crisis,” a book about the online advertising bubble.
The past 15 years have mostly featured an unwillingness on the part of lawmakers and regulators to intervene in the flow of information through the internet. I believe the next 15 will see the reverse. We will see a major expansion in the degree of government involvement in the design of platforms, as well as the industrial organization of “Big Tech.” This has big implications not just for the technology industry itself, but the entire media landscape that now rests upon it.
This shift is the result of a range of forces. First, the period of public admiration that characterized popular discourse about technology leaders in the 2000s has given way to widespread distrust in the 2020s. Second, increased technological competition from China has encouraged a push in the U.S. to ensure that private industry is aligned with broader geopolitical objectives. Both forces have made “tech accountability” a weirdly bipartisan rallying cry in an era of intense polarization.
By 2037, I expect that long-standing pillars of internet policy — including the platform liability shield established by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — will see significant revision. The multiplication of state-level privacy laws like the California Privacy Rights Act will create pressure to ultimately establish federal law in the area. The threat of antitrust will likely drive a kind of “grand bargain,” with major platforms accepting a partnership with government regulators in exchange for a legally-sanctioned cementing of their market leadership.
All this will have a major impact on the media, and the flow of information through society in general. One thing I’m watching for is an explosion in the number and influence of private, closed online communities and content channels in our media landscape: the result of public, incumbent platforms becoming ever more regulated, filtered and consolidated.
A Chance for a Democratic Revival
Heidi Tworek is a Canada Research Chair and associate professor in history and public policy at the University of British Columbia. She is the award-winning author of “News from Germany: The Competition to Control World Communications, 1900-1945.”
By 2037, the American media landscape may look more like 1837 than 1937. There will be few professional reporters. Many outlets in 1837 were single-person outfits, just as many news operations will be single-person Substacks or equivalents in 2037. Journalistic norms and standards will be the exception, not the norm. Most of those norms emerged in the late 19th and 20th centuries. As John Maxwell Hamilton and I argued back in 2018, “American journalism is younger than American baseball.” Many conventions of American journalism will disappear by 2037 in ways that seem to take us back to 1837.
At first glance, the apparent return to 1837 would seem to presage the troubling demise of U.S. democracy. And in the worst case, this could be the outcome.
But, hopefully, 2037 will differ from 1837 in important ways. Unlike 1837, it won’t just be white men setting up media operations. A much more diverse set of people will have a voice and will find an audience. They will do so by innovating new ways to report and discuss news that may barely resemble journalism as we knew it in 2022. Some will operate on the norm of being pro-democracy rather than objective. Others will abandon op-eds riddled with inaccurate predictions to focus on superforecasting, drawing on research by scholars like Philip Tetlock to better inform users. Yet others will build on nonprofit models like The Markup to focus on rigorous data-driven investigations. These would represent welcome innovations in reporting the news. To get there, we would need to recognize what is currently broken in our media landscape and have the bravery to double down on supporting those with the fortitude to innovate the media beyond a model stuck in 1937.
News Descends Further into Entertainment
Colbert I. King
Colbert I. King is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with the Washington Post.
It’s hard enough figuring out with any certainty just how the media landscape will look a few months from now, let alone 15 years down the road. But if the current trajectory is any indication, we, the news media, are on the way to becoming a mainstay in the entertainment industry. As with showbiz, Hollywood and purveyors of theatrical entertainment, the news media has slipped into overdrive to come up with ways in which to make ourselves more interesting to read and watch. And we are doing it because we confront the same fate as Broadway, the circus and the concert stage: without public engagement, we, like them, are nothing.
Meeting that challenge to grow readership and viewership, to draw more and more visits to our news websites, to engage and retain traffic, in order to keep the lights on and pay the bills is causing us, and here is where it hurts, to become less conveyors of the news — presenting to the maximum extent possible, unbiased and reliable reports — and more hucksters and peddlers who are selling and promoting selective products to draw the consuming public to our side.
For more than 30 years, I have been engaged in advocacy journalism as an editorial writer, and as a columnist. I have spent these years working for the Washington Post, an independent, commercial publication that aims to produce objective journalism. I am not a disinterested observer. I am paid to say what I think. I promote ideas and causes, and criticize those I dislike, hopefully with compelling arguments for and against both.
But some time ago, the wall in journalism separating advocacy from objectivity was breached. Today, as we speak, the “who, what, where and when” of storytelling with an added mixture of “how and why,” has given way to outright selling of carefully tailored tales designed to appeal to targeted audiences, told by opinionated reporters untethered to facts.
Over the next 15 years, this transforming media with new pleasurable bells and whistles, is likely to experience commercial success in the world of entertainment — but, I fear, with truth and trust as collateral damages.
Coming Out of the Dark Ages
Eli Pariser is the author of “The Filter Bubble” and co-directs New_ Public, an incubator for public digital spaces.
We are well into an age of media fracture, and in the coming years that trend will only accelerate. The information-rich will get information-richer, but those without the appetite or funds to access gated digital communities will inhabit a vast wasteland of viral lies, propaganda and conflict. Our attention will be pulled magnetically toward nationalized conflict and viral upheavals that most people can’t influence, furthering a sense of powerlessness and alienation.
But by 2037, thanks to a new generation of visionary public entrepreneurs, we will have emerged from this dark media age into a more integrated and human-scale media landscape.
Today, we’re seeing the first sprouts of this growing movement. Local, nonprofit journalism is beginning its post-crash renaissance: Report for America, which places journalists in local papers around the country, is growing enormously, as is LION, a kind of guild for small local news startups. Social science research demonstrates how critical local media is to the health of democracies, not just because it keeps people informed, but because it provides a domain of influence most people can access and successfully engage in — which in turn strengthens trust and faith in democracy itself.
Alongside this local journalistic renaissance, a new group of digital community entrepreneurs, including my team at New_ Public, are beginning to ask how to do for community building what these groups are doing for content: How might we make public digital spaces that serve people, pluralism, democracy and social cohesion, rather than advertisers and venture capitalists?
The idea that we can scale new kinds of public-service social institutions in a mere 15 years may seem fanciful, but it’s a move Americans have made again and again throughout our history during periods of social stress and fracture. When industrialization came, we invented public parks. When a new middle class was born, we invented libraries and public high schools and colleges. Now, as public conversation moves to the digital age, we can invent the public institutions that will make it constructive.
We already know how to make context-full, flourishing public spaces, because we've done it before in the physical world. Our media need not be dystopian if we start building a better digital future now.
Local News Thrives or Dies
Kristen Hare works for the Poynter Institute, where she covers local news and teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to adapt to the changing media landscape.
Here’s the best-case scenario: By 2037, we won’t just have a renaissance of local news, we’ll have a reformation. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated layoffs and closures. And it will help inspire a new generation of local news entrepreneurs who stop trying to make the newspaper a product of the internet and start serving communities and audiences wherever they are. Locally-owned newsrooms will open around the country in Black, Latino, Indigenous and immigrant communities that rarely get covered or considered. There will be a vibrant network of local newsrooms covering climate change and rural communities. And the legacy newsrooms that survived it all, including corporate ownership, will finally stop chasing clicks, scale and Facebook and put their energy into helping people understand where they live.
Here’s the worst-case scenario: By 2037, the only newspapers still in production will be national. The space locally owned newsrooms occupied will be mostly taken over by national networks of partisan sites that make it hard for people to know where their news is coming from and easy to get riled up about the “others.” National newsrooms will set up bureaus in cities around the country, but that work won’t connect locally.
In the first, the effect on our public life isn’t just renewed watchdog reporting of local institutions, but community journalism that reminds people what we have in common. In the second, we’re more divided than ever. Both predictions are me at my optimistic and pessimistic best, and we’re already seeing signs that both are possible — look at the 70-plus newsrooms that launched during the pandemic. And look at the spread of pink slime news sites.
Whether we get to the first or the second scenario depends on how a lot of people and institutions value local news and who makes it, from citizens to philanthropies to local institutions to the federal government to national news itself.
A Journalism for Citizenship
David Folkenflik is the media correspondent for NPR News and the author of “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires.”
It’s a fool’s game to predict anything with any confidence.
So let’s look at what seems likely, and what’s possible.
By 2037, the media landscape will no doubt accelerate trends we’ve already witnessed: strong national brands triumph by catering to elite, monied and older Americans. Private investors have picked apart local papers and sold them for scrap. Local TV stations are nationalized, offering centralized coverage with local segments focusing on dystopian weather events and hyped criminal incidents.
News otherwise splits into ever-more granular appeals, serving business interests and niche obsessions. Social media news feeds give way to news snacks, hot takes to nuclear waste. Ideology smothers news coverage. Public officials seek to hold the press at a distance when they’re not actively discrediting it.
Someone reading a legacy magazine in print effectively attends an event, planned, prepared, ticketed, as rare as a night at the opera.
All this sharpens divisions even more fiercely. Sinkholes in coverage become yawning canyons, while well-heeled communities draw plentiful local news; for-profits chase global cosmopolitan readers on a national and global scale, while not-for-profits scour desperately for enough to scrape by until the next economic crisis.
Nothing is foreordained. And languid resignation just feels tiresome. A generation of journalists and news entrepreneurs have surfaced who do not recall a time in which local news outlets ensured vast wealth. Many approach the industry with creativity and zeal.
A look back at the early 2020s reminds us of determined innovators: Insightful owners emerged in Boston, Charleston, S.C., Los Angeles, Minneapolis and elsewhere to reshape local news outlets, establishing them as both viable and vital.
Civic leaders in Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Tenn., Oakland, Calif. and Long Beach, Calif., among other cities, made big bets of equity or sweat equity — or both — to cover the texture of local life in ways that were recognized by the people who lived there.
Authoritative new sites surfaced with rigorous reporting on specific fields, such as education, criminal justice, public health and other subjects that do not typically pump up clicks or subscriptions.
Relying on a crazy quilt of disparate financial models, more sites must arise to cover topics of climate, democracy, alienation, addiction, you name it — together offering a patchwork system of news.
Taken together these news sources would knit people together as part of larger communities, not just as interest groups or psychographics to be pitched. They would build a journalism that treats people as citizens and neighbors, not just consumers. They would journalism worth sustaining for another 15 years — and beyond.