Newspapers are in trouble, according to John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, and that is bad for society, bad for our culture and even bad for television news, which frequently quotes print journalism. “It’s pretty obvious without newspapers around to cite, TV news would just be Wolf Blitzer endlessly batting a ball of yarn around,” said Oliver.
Oliver noted that even his show wouldn’t be able to do half the work it does without print papers. “Media is a food chain that would fall apart without local newspapers,” said Oliver. Unfortunately, print journalism is no longer a money-making proposition and more papers are becoming “digital first” companies that focus on web news and social media, which he considers to be a loss.
To illustrate his point, Oliver conscripted an all-star cast for a movie called Stoplight — a retelling of the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, which focused on the Boston Globe‘s exposé of child abuse in the Catholic church, and re-imagined it in a digital-first future. In Stoplight, Rose Byrne, Jason Sudeikis and others play jaded journalists to Bobby Cannavale’s upstart reporter who pitches a story to his colleagues, only to have it shot down in favor of a story about a raccoon that looks like a cat. Or it might be a cat that looks like a raccoon. According to fictional reviews, Stoplight is “depressingly accurate.”
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