Economics Media

A conversation about “free” news

I haven’t written about the economics of information recently. A Financial Times blog post blaming Facebook and Google for the election has changed that.

It’s been a long time since I wrote about the economics of information and the news ecosystem.

Right after the election, I provided a contrarian view to the Trump-won-because-of-Facebook allegation. Two subsequent angles bear examination: the Washington Post profiles two “yellow journalists” and how they use Facebook click-bait to make a lot of money and how the Trump campaign used Facebook “dark posts” to target niche voters. I’ll get there. Just not today.

This conversation with a blogger at the Financial Times focuses on my point that news has never been “free.” It came about as a response to an attack from abroad that Facebook and Google are the “bad guys” in this U.S. election.

The attack assumes a moral high ground for news organizations that simply doesn’t exist today. I’m not sure it ever did, although Walter Cronkite certainly made us think that it did. Here are three examples to make my point.

I’m still mulling over my outsized response to the FT blog post.

And as much as I’m worried about fake news, I am even more concerned about the normalization of hate evidenced by my featured photo of Steven Bannon. The quote is from July at the Republican National Convention. And it is in direct contrast to this denial by Trump, made at an on-the-record press conference on Tuesday.


My essays on digital economics and media business models, with a dash of media criticism:

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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