The professional judgment of gatekeepers defined the American news agenda for decades. Making the News Popular, now available from the University of Illinois Press, examines how subsequent events brought on a post-professional period that opened the door for imagining that consumer preferences should drive news production–and unleashed both crisis and opportunity on journalistic institutions.
Anthony Nadler charts a paradigm shift, from market research’s reach into the editorial suite in the 1970s through contemporary experiments in collaborative filtering and social news sites like Reddit and Digg. As Nadler shows, the transition was and is a rocky one. It also goes back much further than many experts suppose. Idealized visions of demand-driven news face obstacles with each iteration. Furthermore, the post-professional philosophy fails to recognize how organizations mobilize interest in news and public life.
Nadler argues that this civic function of news organizations has been neglected in debates on the future of journalism. Only with a critical grasp of news outlets’ role in stirring broad interest in democratic life, he says, might journalism’s digital crisis push us toward building a more robust and democratic news media.
Wide-ranging and original, Making the News Popular offers a critical examination of an important, and still evolving, media phenomenon.