Journalism in the Age of Clickbait

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Title

Howard Law Journal


Martha Minow’s Saving the News lays bare a dramatic shift in American news reporting—the decline of local, in-depth, and investigative journalism in favor of attention-grabbing and politically divisive stories that circulate wildly on social media. Her book proceeds to navigate potential constitutional obstacles to reform by showing how, although the First Amendment prohibits Congress from abridging the freedom of speech, it is no bar where Congress acts instead to strengthen speech. This Book Review extends Minow’s analysis by considering the human and technological roots of the social-media phenomenon: The Americans who choose to read vapid, misleading news stories and the algorithms that circulate them. Sensationalist journalism thrives not by force-feeding us rotten content, but by employing algorithms to plumb the depths of our minds and feed us the very salacious content we love most. A deeper Big Tech battle thus rages within each one of us, between what we want and what we know is good for us. Social-media reform can succeed by empowering us to choose well.

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Publication Date

Winter 2022