In this cause, former Chicago Tribune editor Jack Fuller argues that journalists need to better understand the human psychology to devise ways to carry forth good journalism in an age when the Audience makes all the decisions.
From his post at Nieman Journalism Lab:
The sciences of the mind offer a lot of help if we are willing to learn from them. They explain, for example, why the immediate crowds out the important. Why bad news attracts attention more than good news does. They can show us how emotion interacts with the human brain’s inherent mental shortcuts to lead us systematically to erroneous conclusions. They can point us to the ways in which search algorithms interact with emotions and these mental shortcuts to mislead people about the relative importance of various pieces of information. They can even help us understand the way our ability and impulse to read other people’s minds draws us to a story and light up other secrets of how and why narrative works.Phrases like the "sciences of the mind" sound anachronistic to me, but let's set that aside. Frankly, I'm not sure how practical any of this is, even though I sympathize with the goal. Grasping the basic tenets of human behavior is hard enough; do we really believe we have the ability to use that limited knowledge to create a "new rhetoric of news"?
It should be clear by now that the challenge for journalists from here forward is not only the steadfast adherence to the values of accuracy and independence and the social responsibility to provide a civic education but also the development of new ways of thinking and talking about how to advance the social mission of journalism in a radically and rapidly evolving environment. The answer is not to figure out how to transport 20th century news presentation into 21st century delivery mechanisms but rather to create a new rhetoric of news that can get through to the changed and changing news audience
It's not that change is bad - or that new ways of communicating the news impossible to construct. What I'm critical of is this bizarre faith that measurements and data are the keys to better communication. We should embrace the author/ego vs. crowd/id dynamic and let new forms of news develop organically - indeed, that's going to happen whether we plan for it or not. We should stop being slaves to the metric and stop condescending to the "them."