How Facebook is ruining public life
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Google and Facebook are killing local newspapers—and badly damaging American public life, said Eric Johnson. The internet giants “vacuumed out” more than $60 billion in advertising revenue in 2018—dollars that once went to newspapers and “sustained local reporters all over the country.” Those reporters covered town council meetings, tax increases, zoning changes, and state capitals. But as local newspapers die by the hundreds, those reporters are no longer on the beat—and decisions get made in the dark. The loss of engagement with local civics and decision-making, I think, “is contributing mightily to the sense of frustration so many of us feel with politics and public life.” On the local level, there are “problems you can actually fix,” and political participation by ordinary people can make a big difference. Not so on the national level, where divisive problems like immigration and the Mueller investigation are “endlessly repackaged as cheap entertainment” by the national media, to the exhaustion of everyone. Your community is not your Facebook contacts; it’s “where you live.” We’d all be happier if we paid more attention to local politics and less to Facebook.