It’s been quite the season of shake-ups for cable news: Earlier this week, news broke of the departure of CNN CEO Chris Licht after one chaotic year on the job—shocking, perhaps, only those who hadn’t yet read the bombshell Atlantic profile of Licht published just days before. This development, combined with declining ratings and the dismissals of Don Lemon and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson back in April, makes it clear that broadcasters are struggling to find their footing in an attention economy where the scale for outrage and urgency has been wholly broken by the Trump and COVID era.
But it’s not just a cable news problem, or one limited to legacy media. Across the board, digital and social media brands that have shaped the past decade of discourse have failed to realize their sunnier 2010s-era aspirations. Beloved brands like BuzzFeed News, MTV News, and Vice have recently been shuttered or gone bankrupt. Twitter’s continued decline under Elon Musk has prompted a spate of alternatives, like Bluesky, but platforms overall are also finding themselves increasingly under scrutiny (see: Montana’s banning of TikTok and the surgeon general’s serious warning about social media’s impact on kids’ mental health). The old order just can’t seem to adjust to the various pressures—and differing realities—of our current era. But is anyone getting it right?
This week on Inside the Hive, Delia Cai and Hive staff writer Charlotte Klein discuss the prescient Licht profile and what it reveals about media’s larger state of crisis—one in which Carlson has turned to Twitter, once promising players like BuzzFeed News and Vice have failed, and everything just kind of feels like the depressing Succession finale.
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