Welcome back to the Baekdal Plus newsletter. The nightmare is over. The US has a new president, and things can now change for the better.
You might think this is a strange thing to say as a media analyst, because in the media we often talk about not showing bias. But what I just said isn't a bias.
I'm reminded of a tweet I saw earlier this month about the BBC director-general, who said that journalists are "activists for impartiality".
I disagree with this.
Journalists should not be activists for impartiality, we should be activists for facts. If one person lies and the other provides facts, it's absolutely vital that the public understand which is which. This is what holding people to account is for.
And this is what I mean when I say that the nightmare is over. Over the past four years, we have seen how facts and lies became indistinguishable, we saw how opinions of pundits got more attention, how people profited from falsehoods, how the public got misled, and how country leaders used all of this to drive polarization, hatred, and division at a level never seen before in modern times.
You can't be impartial to all of that because we are journalists - it's our role to help the public navigate this, to become more informed, ending up in a better place.
Over the past four years, we tried to do that ... but we mostly failed. We did not end up with a public that was more informed and more united. We ended up with a public more polarized than ever before. A public so filled with hate that we lost the ability to inform them factually.
And I'm not just talking about the US here. This has become a global problem.
But, as I said, the nightmare is over.
With a new president in the US, we have an opportunity to change things. To show the world that there is another way, a better way. I'm not saying we should support Biden. That's not what this is about. We should hold him to account just as much as we would do with any other president at any other time in the past.
But, we also need to acknowledge that we share a common goal. The US needs to heal, to change its focus from division to shared dreams. There are several critical problems that need to be fixed, and as the press, it is part of our role to make sure that happens. And again, this is also true for Europe.
What we need right now is a fresh start.
In the press, we could just continue to do the same things we have done over the past four years, with the same focus, the same style of adversarial reporting, the same 'he said/she said' stories that only end up confusing people even more.
Or... we can use this opportunity to step up our role, and to change the way we do things. We could clear away the newspapers of the old, take out a fresh blank piece of paper, and start anew.
I'm reminded of the final comic that Bill Watterson made of Calvin & Hobbes in 1995. You can see it here, but he wrote.
Everything familiar has disappeared. The world looks brand-new. A new year ... a fresh start. It's like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on. A day full of possibilities.
It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy ... let's go exploring!
This is what we should do as the press. Let's leave the past four years in the past and move on. Let's explore, and let's help build a new world.
And don't just let me tell you this. Let Amanda Gorman tell you this.
One of the things we need to drastically change is the problem we have today with misinformation. This is a problem that the press has a big role in, which sounds bad, but it means we're in a great position to fix things!
I have written an article about this, focusing on the media as a whole and our role in relation to COVID-19.
It's called "The six sources of COVID-19 misinformation"
As you might know, I'm focusing this month of January on exploring and discussing the problem we see with diversity in the media, and in particular with independent publishers.
I have published four things so far:
And the fourth thing is an interview with Isabelle Roughol.
Isabelle is a former editor of LinkedIn News, but she has also worked at Le Figaro, and Cambodia Daily. I sat down with her (over the internet) to have a chat on her new publication/podcasts called "Borderline", the problems with diversity and lack of globalism, and the challenges of being an independent publisher.
Wait... 'a podcast episode'?!?!
Yes, the Baekdal Plus podcast is back in a new and much improved form!
(I told you this was the time for a fresh start! ;))
Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter
"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé