Former New Republic Editor Franklin Foer ruminates on the power he sees large tech companies holding over media outlets — a power he believes is detrimental to journalistic neutrality, the pursuit of truth and intellectual rigor. He talks about the dependence of media organizations on large tech platforms, his views on subscription-based models, and how he thinks journalism institutions should think about data and algorithms.
The pursuit of digital readership broke the New Republic — and an entire industry. Data have turned journalism into a commodity, something to be marketed, tested, calibrated. Perhaps people in the media have always thought this way. But if that impulse existed, it was at least buffered. Journalism’s leaders were vigilant about separating the church of editorial from the secular concerns of business. We can now see the cause for fanaticism about building such a thick wall between the two.