24 May. 2018
Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, answering Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk stupid comments about the media industry and journalism:
Musk may be trying to ape Trump’s tactics, but his absurd charge — ask Exxon or Ford if they’d swap their press for Tesla’s — reveals something different: how little the tech barons shaping the new ways we live and consume information understand about journalism.
Smith makes an excellent point in this article: the lack of news literacy. Other journalists wrote about this, as they should. Here is Fast Company’s Marcus Baram:
Musk’s accusations reveal how he and Trump fundamentally misunderstand journalism and its practitioners.
As much as I agree with the fact that leaders — and more specifically tech leaders — should know more about how journalism actually works, I think there is more to it.
Musk may not know very well how journalism works, but he definitely knows how easy it is to blame publicly “the media” when something you don’t like gets published, or is about to get published. He knows how to exploit feelings over facts, he knows this is the post-truth era. Trump plays the same game to fuel his own agenda.
Another “tech baron” also ignorant about the news industry: Zuckerberg. His recent hearings showed he should obviously know more about journalism. Maybe he just doesn’t care. But did you see Zuckerberg rambling publicly on how the media would be lying about Facebook, that they are paid by Google or whatever? I did not.
Ignorance is not an excuse for what Musk did.