Nancy Gibbs sees the current lack of trust in journalism as “the battle of our generation.” On the latest episode of The Human Factor web series, the former Editor in Chief of Time joined Mansueto Ventures CEO Eric Schurenberg to discuss the past, present, and future of journalism and the information ecosystem.
In her current position as director of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Gibbs researches how local news can be financed and formatted. “I think some of the efforts that are percolating in Congress about trying to… restore a viable model for local journalism are critically important,” she says.
Those efforts matter, according to Gibbs, because of the many negative effects of the decline of local journalism, like increased government corruption, the spread of disinformation, and more polarizing national news. She believes the antidote to polarization is a return to news sources that serve a public interest–and reach audiences across ideological and demographic differences.
Gibbs says such a model will improve the quality of information people receive and build trust between consumers and journalists, but notes that there are many more complex factors contributing to mistrust of the media. That’s why, she says, we also must tackle issues like data privacy and autonomy, algorithmic transparency, and accountability for large tech companies–which are often partially responsible for the spread of disinformation.
It’s a big task: “Outrage is very profitable,” she says.