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.

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LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

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