Two articles from two different media experts drop almost simultaneously. In one, Brian Cathcart, leading advocate for Hacked Off, upbraids the media secretary for continuing hints at relaxing press control implementation. “She needs us to think that there have been so many changes since 2013 that were not foreseen by government, parliament or the Leveson inquiry that she... has been obliged to step in and seek the best way to put things right. It’s just not true … “
Meanwhile, in a long read for the Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal sets a rather different time frame: “Things we thought we understood – narratives, data, software, news events – have had to be reinterpreted in light of Donald Trump’s surprising win, as well as the continuing questions about the role that misinformation and disinformation played in his election.
“Tech journalists covering Facebook had a duty to cover what was happening before, during, and after the election… But no one delivered the synthesis that could have tied together all these disparate threads. It’s not that this hypothetical perfect story would have changed the outcome of the election. The real problem... is understanding the set of conditions that led to Trump’s victory. The informational underpinnings of democracy have eroded, and no one has explained precisely how.”
Now, apples and pears. Cathcart pursues the events of 2003-07 zealously. Madrigal wouldn’t dream of delving into events so far past. Both see terrible threats looking back. But the gulf between their visions seems stark when you try to look forward. One a sleazy episode from a decade past. The other an overarching issue we all have to grapple with sooner or later. Like, now.
• Circulation in September: 1,472,975 copies a weekday, rising 9.8% a year, a print superstar. But the fact that it’s free doesn’t account for Metro’s success. Free newspapers don’t count. Except that as its editor, Ted Young, says thousands are picking it up each morning and leaving their smartphones in their pocket. Except, as Young mordantly adds, you can find stacks of FTs (£2.70 a time) in a free pile at Heathrow – and still there as you ready for take-off.