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Episode Info:

This is a tough conversation. It was a tough one to hold, and it’s a tough one to publish.

I’m a journalist. I’ve been a journalist for 15 years. I believe in journalism. But right now, I’m worried we’re failing. I’m worried we’re making American politics worse, not better.

That’s not because we're not doing remarkable, courageous, heroic work. It’s not because we’re fake news or biased hacks. Look at the #MeToo movement, the investigations of Donald Trump's finances, the remarkable reporting that journalists do every day from war zones and Ebola outbreaks and authoritarian regimes.

It's because everything around us has changed — our business models, the way people read us, the way we compete with each other, the way we’re manipulated — and we’re getting played, particularly in political reporting and commentary, by the outrage merchants and con artists and trolls and polarizers who understand this new world better.

President Trump is the most successful media hacker out there, but he’s not the only one. They’re using us as tools to fracture American democracy, and I don’t think we know how to stop them.

Jay Rosen is a professor of journalism at New York University and the founder of PressThink. He’s one of our sharpest, clearest critics and interpreters. I asked him on the show to help me think through what’s wrong in the press, and what I’m doing wrong in my own work.

Recommended books:

Deciding What's News by Herbert Gans

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

Exit, Voice, and Loyalty by Albert O. Hirschman

Making Democracy Work by Robert Putnam

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