The Fate of the News…

Like everyone on the planet, everything I do and think about now lies within the framework of the pandemic.

My child is a journalist and we are fully committed to her profession- and to its importance in our democracy. This quote is taken from a March 29 story in the New Yorker online: “The Fate of the News in The Age of the Coronavirus, ” by Michael Luo:

“A robust, independent press is widely understood to be an essential part of a functioning democracy. It helps keep citizens informed; it also serves as a bulwark against the rumors, half-truths, and propaganda that are rife on digital platforms. It’s a problem, therefore, when the majority of the highest-quality journalism is behind a paywall. In recent weeks, recognizing the value of timely, fact-based news during a pandemic, the TimesThe Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other publications—including The New Yorker—have lowered their paywalls for portions of their coronavirus coverage. But it’s unclear how long publishers will stay committed to keeping their paywalls down, as the state of emergency stretches on. The coronavirus crisis promises to engulf every aspect of society, leading to widespread economic dislocations and social disruptions that will test our political processes and institutions in ways far beyond the immediate public-health threat. With the misinformation emanating from the Trump White House, the need for reliable, widely-accessible information and facts is more urgent than ever. Yet the economic shutdown created by the spread of covid-19 promises to decimate advertising revenue, which could doom more digital news outlets and local newspapers.”

This piece goes on to frame the fate of the information ecosystem in the US around the widening economic gaps in our society –the best educated, wealthiest Americans have access to the finest forms of journalism. All others fend for themselves in the online marketplace of free information – fake or inaccurate though it may be.

I’m thinking about the fate of our higher education system in this same way: the best endowed privates or public institutions in the wealthy states will make it through to the other side of this economic catastrophe. And the benefits of “higher” education flow accordingly.

And so it goes ..

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