News gurus lament "ideological funnel" created by social media

At CME Group’s 10th annual Global Financial Leadership Conference, moderator Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, led panelists Jill Abramson of the New York Times, Brit Hume of Fox News, and Craig Silverman of BuzzFeed News, through a discussion of the media in the Trump years. The panel, titled The Death of Truth: Operating in a World Where Facts Don't Matter,.saw Abramson express amazement at the speed with which news is now proliferated, but moreso by the “narrowing of the ideological funnel” that social media, such as Facebook, represents.

Hume noted that the use of Twitter by President Donald Trump has done his presidency “inestimable harm” while rejecting the notion that the sitting president has a grand media strategy as suggested by Scarborough. Hume highlighted that journalists must not be objective, but they can be fair, stating journalists must recognize their own biases and not write towards them. He went on to say that he reads the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post everyday, in that order. Scarborough and Silverman said that they begin their days with Twitter and then tailor their stories around what they bring in first by social media.

Continuing that conversation around social media, Scarborough proposed to the panel the idea of regulating social media as the government does around public broadcast media. Hume rejected the ideas based on first amendment principles, but Silverman walked a thin line stating the threat of regulating news found on Facebook and Twitter is probably better than actual regulation.

The decline of local news was highlighted by Scarborough, Abramson and Hume as a negative bellweather for the future of journalism. Scarborough, a former congressman, said the decline of local news bureaus makes it easier for politicians to duck local accountability.

“Does anyone really cover city hall?” Scarborough asked rhetorically.

Where before young journalists would cut their teeth in the local market, those avenues are not available anywhere when the new media landscape, especially Facebook and Google, are sucking up the lion's share of advertising money. The panelists all expect this trend to continue.