John Oliver Takes On the Bleak Future of Journalism

“The media is a food chain that would fall apart without local newspapers.”


On Sunday, John Oliver focused the main segment of the latest Last Week Tonight on the steady collapse of print journalism and the overwhelming focus newsrooms have today on pushing viral content. This is despite the fact that most digital outlets rely heavily on the newspapers they are quickly replacing.

“It’s pretty obvious without newspapers around to cite, TV news would just be Wolf Blitzer endlessly batting a ball of yarn around,” Oliver said.

But with plummeting profits and people’s unwillingness to pay for news, local journalism is struggling to survive.

“We’ve just grown accustom to getting our news for free,” Oliver said. “The longer that we get something for free, the less willing we are to pay for it.”

To help make his point, Oliver concluded his segment with a frightening Spotlight spoof about a hard-hitting reporter (played by Bobby Cannavale) trying to break a story about city hall corruption—all in the face of his manager’s demand for story clicks.