Kara Swisher Blames Big Tech For the Decline of Digital Media

Swisher also blamed digital news organizations, saying "these businesses have economic systems not in line with our costs."

Kara Swisher
Kara Swisher shared her thoughts on the tech industry’s impact on digital news media. Photo by Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Ahead of the release for her new book, Burn Book, journalist Kara Swisher reflected on the tech industry’s impact on digital news media. Burn Book, which hits bookstores today (Feb. 27), chronicles the former Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post reporter’s experience covering the biggest tech moguls of our time and the relationships she created with them over the past few decades. 

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In an interview with The Daily Beast published yesterday, Swisher suggested there should be blame placed on both the tech and the digital news industries for the downfall of digital news. It seems more than ever that digital media companies that have built robust news brands like BuzzFeed and Vice Media are unable to adapt to the changing technology that they once thrived under. 

“These businesses have economic systems not in line with our costs,” Swisher told The Daily Beast. “That’s pretty much one of the things media doesn’t like to do is pretend costs need to meet revenues. Normal reporters don’t think about that.”

About 130 newspapers closed or merged in 2023 and the U.S. is on track this year to lose a third of its newspapers compared with 2005, according to a report from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. The media business in general is struggling, with over 20,000 layoffs in 2023, according to career services firm Challenger Gray. Horror stories like The Messenger shutting down abruptly and nine months worth of articles disappearing without notice have made writers and news consumers alike fearful that important work may be lost forever. 

Swisher expressed frustration with powerful tech executives who de-prioritized news. Google (GOOGL) reportedly tested getting rid of its news tab last week, and social media executives including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg have outlined strategies that avoid amplifying news posts on their platforms. She recalled a conversation she had with Google cofounder Larry Page where she argued with him that Google wasn’t doing enough to distinguish credible news sources from non-credible ones.    

“He was like, ‘Well, people can decide.’ I’m like, no, no, it’s like putting tainted meat next to good meat,” Swisher said. She added that, instead of figuring out how to prioritize accurate news while offering a wide breadth of opinions and information, tech companies like Google would rather place all the information together “like throwing library books on the floor” and leaving the work of deciphering up to users. 

She also spoke about the threat of artificial intelligence (A.I.), specifically artificially general intelligence or A.G.I., to digital news through the spread of misinformation. “Now these [AGI] bots just churn out so much dreck that it’s hard to sort through to the real stuff, and the platforms are doing nothing about it,” Swisher said. “It seems like they’re not elevating trusted sources of news because they refuse to choose and I didn’t ask them to choose…just put stuff we know to be news organizations.”

Kara Swisher Blames Big Tech For the Decline of Digital Media