The ramifications, Oliver stated, extend far beyond the quality of journalism: government corruption — particularly at a local level, in places where newspapers have shut down or reporters have been laid off in droves — could feasibly become far easier to get away with if publications don’t have the resources to do extensive investigative journalism (or even to show up to government meetings).
Oliver emphasized that the need for an online presence for print publications is wholly understandable, but that it often leads to a devolution towards click-oriented publishing. One solution, he mentioned, is a publication being bought by a multibillionaire who can bankroll extensive research — but then the publication risks having to cater to that person’s sensibilities, or worse, to ignore his or her indiscretions.
Oliver asserted that part of the blame, as well as the potential for reversing the deterioration of journalism, is on readers; he suggested that part of what could change is for people to start paying a bit for their news — which was, of course, what everyone did prior to the Internet.
Thus ensued the aforementioned Spotlight spoof, in which Bobby Cannavale plays a journalist passionately pitching a piece on corruption in Boston, which is then shot down for its lack of clickability.
“I’ve got a thing about a cat that looks like a raccoon,” says the Rose Byrne-alist, quickly winning the approval of her Jason Sudeikis EIC. “Or it could be a raccoon that looks like a cat.”
Watch the segment:
And once you’re done, despite the bleakness, here’s one small silver lining: Facebook is aiming to suppress the spread of clickbait. Of course, that doesn’t speak to the issue of how hegemonic single corporations like Facebook and Twitter have become at spreading the news. So yeah, still pretty bleak.