Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump to the rescue?

"Donald Trump, media saviour"? A trolling headline if ever there was one - or so you'd think. The BBC's media editor Amol Rajan has looked beyond Trump's aggressive attitude towards mainstream news outlets ("fake news" etc) and use of alt right sites and social media to communicate directly with the American people, taking a closer look at his actual impact, and come to a surprising and counterintuitive conclusion: "In fact, contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy, Donald Trump is not the man who will kill the mainstream media. He is the man who could save it."

The crux of Rajan's argument is that, not so much despite as because of his ranting and rhetoric, Trump has inadvertently boosted the flagging revenues of such media institutions as the New York Times, CNN and the Guardian, all struggling to find financial models that work in the digital age.

Not that it's an unproblematic situation, of course. As Rajan notes, it's making the relationship between the commercial and editorial divisions of news organisations increasingly fractious and oppositional. What's more, he focuses purely on finances and arguably also only on the short-term impact, failing to acknowledge that Trump's successful pursuit of his policies would surely be damaging in the long term. Perhaps the mainstream media are merely making hay while the sun shines, and the money men should be as concerned as the editorial staff about what happens when the hard rain comes.

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