The professional judgment of gatekeepers defined the American news agenda for decades. Making the News Popular examines how subsequent events brought on a post-professional period that opened the door for imagining that consumer preferences should drive news production--and unleashed both crisis and opportunity on journalistic institutions. Anthony Nadler charts a paradigm shift, from market research's reach into the editorial suite in the 1970s through contemporary experiments in collaborative filtering and social news sites like Reddit and Digg. As Nadler shows, the transition was and is a rocky one. It also goes back much further than many experts suppose. Idealized visions of demand-driven news face obstacles with each iteration. Furthermore, the post-professional philosophy fails to recognize how organizations mobilize interest in news and public life. Nadler argues that this civic function of news organizations has been neglected in debates on the future of journalism. Only with a critical grasp of news outlets' role in stirring broad interest in democratic life, he says, might journalism's digital crisis push us towards building a more robust and democratic news media.
This important book offers a penetrating and original analysis of how news audiences are mobilized. With his path-breaking contribution to media studies and journalism history, Nadler has woven a captivating account that reveals how media institutions--from traditional newspapers to cable news and social news sites--shape our preferences, and why this matters for democratic society. Making News Popular should be mandatory reading for anyone seeking a critical understanding of the economic and cultural imperatives that drive our news media.--Victor Pickard, author of America's Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform
"In this imaginative and original history, Tony Nadler shows how, since the 1970s, U.S. news institutions have embraced the principle that consumer preferences rather than editorial expertise should determine the news agenda. Along the way, he asks important questions about the consequences of this enduring approach for our own digital news era. How do the news media shape and constrain the very audience choices they claim to measure? What are the consequences for our public culture and democracy? How can we build a more participatory, inclusive, and democratic news media? An illuminating, challenging, and highly readable account."--Kathy Roberts Forde, author of Literary Journalism on Trial: Masson v. New Yorker and the First Amendment