Speaking truth to power in dangerous times

Matthew Taylor's avatar
Matthew Taylor

Where can people access quality reporting? What is the future of investigative journalism? Web Summit attendees in Lisbon learned that the problems in news are growing.

In an era of misinformation and government propaganda, quality journalism faces existential threats. That’s according to journalist and author Vincent Bevins, who warned us at Web Summit that the business models that once supported robust investigative reporting have crumbled.

“There’s no longer a business model for journalism in general, but especially for international journalism and serious global investigative reporting,” asserted Vincent.

The author argued that with fewer journalists holding those in power accountable, governments find it easier to control the narrative.

“With less and less people dedicated to doing the kind of thing that I’m supposed to be doing, it becomes much easier for the government of the United States or the UK, or any other of the powerful countries … to simply say something – to leak some claim about some ‘bad country’ to the press – and then for there to be no pushback,” Vincent claimed.

Steady decline

The result is a steady decline in quality coverage. “International journalism is worse than when I started 15 years ago, and I think it’s going to be worse in five years unless we make a concerted effort to try to figure out how to actually fund [it],” Vincent warned.

The author said the problem is fundamentally political rather than technological: “As a society, we have to decide if we want journalism, because I think if we don’t have journalism, we’re not gonna have democracy.”

With propaganda on the march in an era of rising authoritarianism, protecting quality journalism may be more vital than ever. As Vincent made clear, the business models that once supported the fourth estate continue to crumble. Finding a way to fund speaking truth to power is an urgent challenge of our time.

For more great content, join us at Web Summit Rio. Get tickets now.


QAnon: The other pandemic

In the darker recesses of the internet, the QAnon phenomenon thrives. Rooted in an almost messianic dedi...

February 1

Balancing innovation and ethics in the AI age

With the advent of generative AI in newsrooms, audiences are fee...

February 1