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There has been much attention in recent years to the future sustainability of news production, and the implications of a decline in professionally produced and locally based journalism for civic engagement, democratic participation and the public sphere. There has been a long-term drift of audiences and advertisers away from the dominant mass media formats of the 20th century, such as newspapers, magazines and broadcast radio and television, towards a
wider range of digital options, including social media, subscription video-on-demand services, podcasts and blogs. There has also been growing questioning of the role of digital platforms in the transformation of media markets, and how equitable the relationships are between the many creators of news content and the small number
of digital platforms, which have near-monopoly power in key digital sectors such as search and social media, as well as dominance in digital advertising.1 These concerns about industry transformation and market power are overlaid by concern about the consequences of a changing news media ecology, particularly the impact of misinformation and “fake news” distributed through social media platforms by politically and ideologically motivated “bad actors”,2 which in turn feeds into a wider distrust of not only the media, but all social institutions.
In the first of a two-part essay on people’s preparedness to pay for the media they consume, TERRY FLEW considers the future of news
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