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"Because no matter how strong an outlet’s brand these days, no matter how sterling their reputation, more and more readers are simply following individual writers on Twitter, establishing singular bonds of trust that don’t necessarily translate to those writers’ outlets.

A revealing anecdote courtesy of Emily Bazelon, cohost of Slate’s 'Political Gabfest' podcast:

'This is something that’s happened to me a few times in the last, six months, nine months…

I’ll be talking with someone who is not political at all, does not follow news, I have no idea how they vote, and they’ll ask me what I’m working on. And I’ll start telling them about a story, and they’ll say, ‘Oh that’s really interesting, will you send that to me?’ or they’ll go find it and come back to me and want to talk to me about it.

And then they’ll say, ‘Can you send me the other things you’re writing? Because I don’t know what to trust. But now that I’ve met you, I want to read what you are writing.’

I guess it’s a compliment, but I also think it’s nuts!

The fact that you had a conversation with me somehow means that I deserve…it’s like we’re back in a town square where people are talking to each other personally because they don’t know who to trust, and because ‘Oh what’s coming in over my Facebook feed? I have no idea where any of it’s coming from,’ as opposed to ‘here are institutions.’

Sometimes I’ll try to gently say, ‘Well I work for the New York Times, and you could read other things from the New York Times,’ and I’ve had people back away from that idea, like, ‘Well, no, I don’t know what to trust in any particular mainstream media outlet, but I want to read you.’

I think it’s not a good sign.'

And not a good sign it may be.

But it’s also our current reality, and to not admit as much is to disrespect the truth we’ve claimed to so revere."


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