NYU media critic Jay Rosen – my first mentor – keeps a list of things in journalism that worry him the most. His first three (“ranked by urgency”):
1. The President of the United States is proceeding as though he were liberated from the distinction between true and false. His spokespeople are following on this dubious lead. What does the press do in response?
2. It’s possible we are sliding toward authoritarian rule. That’s a development journalists ought to oppose with all their might. But they are reluctant to think that way. They don’t want to be on the opposing team— or anyone’s team. They just want to report the news. “We’re not the opposition,” they say. Yet they may have no choice. From what traditions can they draw to rise to the occasion, and find the will to fight?
3. With Trump in power there is a surplus of eventfulness, too many things to report, track, investigate, critique. Too much news! How does the press keep from exhausting itself and fracturing our attention into too many pieces?