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Journalism’s Risky Tech Attraction

There is nothing wrong with using technology to solve problems, including those created by technology, or to give a company a competitive edge. But not even the most advanced tech will save the media industry if there is no regard for the people – journalists and audiences – who are asked to use it.

OXFORD – Technology was supposed to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Connect everyone to the Internet, it was once assumed, and democracy would follow. Collect enough data, and all of our questions would be answered. Put everything online, and algorithms would do the rest. The world would practically run itself.

Instead, we now know that digital technology can be used to undermine democracy; that it raises more questions than it answers; and that a world that runs itself seems more like an Orwellian nightmare scenario than a noble goal. But while technology isn’t the solution, it isn’t really the problem either; our single-minded focus on it is.

Consider the experience of the media industry, where the digital revolution has wreaked havoc on prevailing business models over the last decade. Publishers and editors responded by putting all their faith in technology: tracking all manner of metrics, embracing data journalism, hiring video teams, and opening podcast studios.

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