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The Munk Debates: S02 #22 – Mainstream Media is Dying and that’s OK


Debaters: Matt Taibbi, Ben Bradlee Jr.

April 27,2021

Be it resolved, Mainstream Media is Dying and that’s OK.

Traditional broadcasters, daily newspapers, and monthly magazines are struggling to stay afloat as more people turn to non-traditional sources for their news. The likes of Medium, Substack, Twitter, and a seemingly endless series of small independent websites, are building new audiences by offering up news and information tailored to their users’ specific interests and tastes. Some journalists are all too happy to write the mainstream media’s obituary, arguing that institutions like CNN and The New York Times have been taken over by activist journalists and can no longer be relied upon to provide unbiased reporting. Others believe that mainstream organizations provide an invaluable public service that new digital news are either incapable or uninterested in providing: careful fact-based reporting on important issues and holding the powerful to account. In a brave new world of “fake news” and “drive by” journalism, traditional news organizations are essential to our democracy and bulwark against corruption and tyranny.


Matt Taibbi

“Intellectual diversity that was normal in a newsroom once upon a time is vanishing. There’s an expectation now among younger reporters to be a team player devoted to pursuing the same ideological framework.”

Matt Taibbi is an American author and journalist. Primarily known for his work at Rolling Stone Magazine, Taibbi has reported on politics, media, finance, and sports, winning the National Magazine Award for Commentary in 2008. He has authored several books, including Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus (2017) and the New York Times bestsellers The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (2014), Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America (2010) and The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion (2009). 

Prior to his time at Rolling Stone, Taibbi worked and lived in the former Soviet Union for over a decade. He edited an English-language newspaper in Moscow called the eXile and also played professional basketball in Mongolia. 

Ben Bradlee Jr

“Eliminating any media or wishing any media die is wrong. The business models of the mainstream newspapers will change, and have. The more voices we can get at this point, the better.”

Ben Bradlee Jr. was a reporter and editor with The Boston Globe for 25 years and is the author of five books. He is currently working on a biography of Daniel Ellsberg, the father of whistleblowing in America, best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971, first to the New York Times, and then to other newspapers. 

Bradlee spent ten years as a reporter and fifteen years as an editor at The Boston Globe from 1979 to 2004. As deputy managing editor, he oversaw the Globe’s Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church from 2001 to 2002 and also supervised the production of a book on the subject, Betrayal, which Little, Brown published in June 2002. “Spotlight,’’ a major feature film on the Globe’s investigation, was released in the fall of 2015 and won two Academy Awards, one for best original screenplay and one for best picture. Bradlee was portrayed in the film by actor John Slattery. 

As a reporter, he served on the Spotlight Team, at the State House bureau, and as the paper’s roving national correspondent from 1982 to 1986. He covered the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis and also reported overseas for the Globe from Afghanistan, South Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Vietnam. 

About Munk Debates

We are the world’s first podcast dedicated to convening one-on-one debates between today’s biggest thinkers and sharpest minds. Our mission is to create space for civil and substantive debates on the big issues of the day – free of spin, focused on facts and animated by smart conversation. Join us each week for a fresh take on the complex, controversial and compelling debates of our time.

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