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92

Speech Defects

How consumer marketing distorts democracy

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by Jim Sleeper. some good stuff on Citizens United & Elizabeth Anderson's book Private Government but not that much worth saving

? (2018). Speech Defects. The Baffler, 40, pp. 92-107

106

Journalism, too, is in crisis amid the economic and technological riptides and judicial rulings that treat information as another commodity. The First Amendment rightly bars government from abridging “freedom of the press” because, as New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen notes, good journalism brings reportage and commentary to public decision-making. Increasingly, though, journalists are employed by shareholder-driven media corporations that bypass the civic-minded “public” to assemble audiences on any pretext—sensationalistic, erotic, bigoted, nihilistic—that will keep them watching. “Democracy dies in darkness,” proclaims the motto of the Washington Post, now that it’s owned by Amazon proprietor Jeff Bezos, but democracy dies also in a deluge of blindingly bright messages treating citizens as impulse-driven consumers or worse.

Official censorship and reverse censorship matter less in the United States than does what the media critic John Keane calls “market censorship”: the profit-driven distortion of news that has updated the market dictum to “give the people what they want.” It operates under a perversely uncivil model of what the citizen should know and be entertained by—even when, as in Facebook’s case, the category of “knowledge” is effectively effaced to promote feedback loops of conspiracy-mongering, bigotry, and worse.

The relevant model here isn’t public deliberation but platform addiction: the political weaponization of Facebook demonstrates that much of what was once called “journalism” has become a subspecies of operant conditioning—peddling whatever a proprietary algorithm suggests will keep us glued to its screens. Allowing such deranging platforms to operate under libertarian protections of the First Amendment enables media managers to transform their platforms into Foucauldian panopticons that monitor customers’ patterns of behavior in ways that harm user privacy and benefit spinners of political falsehoods such as Cambridge Analytica.

just thought the imagery of the subject phrase was nice

—p.106 missing author 5 months ago

Journalism, too, is in crisis amid the economic and technological riptides and judicial rulings that treat information as another commodity. The First Amendment rightly bars government from abridging “freedom of the press” because, as New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen notes, good journalism brings reportage and commentary to public decision-making. Increasingly, though, journalists are employed by shareholder-driven media corporations that bypass the civic-minded “public” to assemble audiences on any pretext—sensationalistic, erotic, bigoted, nihilistic—that will keep them watching. “Democracy dies in darkness,” proclaims the motto of the Washington Post, now that it’s owned by Amazon proprietor Jeff Bezos, but democracy dies also in a deluge of blindingly bright messages treating citizens as impulse-driven consumers or worse.

Official censorship and reverse censorship matter less in the United States than does what the media critic John Keane calls “market censorship”: the profit-driven distortion of news that has updated the market dictum to “give the people what they want.” It operates under a perversely uncivil model of what the citizen should know and be entertained by—even when, as in Facebook’s case, the category of “knowledge” is effectively effaced to promote feedback loops of conspiracy-mongering, bigotry, and worse.

The relevant model here isn’t public deliberation but platform addiction: the political weaponization of Facebook demonstrates that much of what was once called “journalism” has become a subspecies of operant conditioning—peddling whatever a proprietary algorithm suggests will keep us glued to its screens. Allowing such deranging platforms to operate under libertarian protections of the First Amendment enables media managers to transform their platforms into Foucauldian panopticons that monitor customers’ patterns of behavior in ways that harm user privacy and benefit spinners of political falsehoods such as Cambridge Analytica.

just thought the imagery of the subject phrase was nice

—p.106 missing author 5 months ago