If Then

Why Big Tech Companies Are Suddenly Trying to Save Local News

Companies like Google and Facebook left the local news industry in shambles. Are they really the best ones to save it?

Listen to If Then by clicking the arrow on the audio player below, or get the show via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play

April Glaser and Will Oremus discuss a recent report in Bloomberg that says executives at YouTube ignored employees who raised concerns about the spread of harmful videos. The company’s algorithm often recommends conspiracy videos, which lead viewers down rabbit holes they might not otherwise explore.

Then, journalism professor Emily Bell talks about Google and Facebook’s recent efforts to revive the local news industry. Since the tech giants are partially complicit in harming local news in the first place, Bell says it’s akin to asking a bull that broke everything in a china shop to come and piece things back together.

Stories discussed on the show:

Bloomberg: “YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant

Columbia Journalism Review: “Do Technology Companies Care About Journalism?

Don’t Close My Tabs:

April: “Tesla Cars Keep More Data Than You Think, Including This Video of a Crash That Totaled a Model 3

Will: “Netflix’s Our Planet Says What Other Nature Series Have Omitted

Podcast production by Cameron Drews.

You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.