It is also worth noting that this growth in Trump-generated dividends could skew news in a continually partisan direction. When Vanity Fair helped subscriptions soar a hundred-fold by billing itself as a magazine that Donald Trump hated, they were exercising good marketing. But they also showed us how this trend could entrench divisive elements of our national politics.
If certain news outlets (Steve Bannon’s Breitbart, say) bill themselves as the news outlets Trump likes, and others, like Vanity Fair and Buzzfeed, sell themselves as vehemently anti-Trump, they’ll encourage readers to align themselves along those lines. They’ll be forced to pander to readers who only want one version of the news (regardless of whether it’s the truthful version).
And readers will see their anti- or pro-Trumpness as their political brand, which will further entrench stereotypical and prejudicial stances on American politics as a whole.
Those are worst-case scenarios. But on the positive side, this trend could also push journalists to put out a better product—to verify before they report, and make sure their readers have trusted sources in the media. As Thompson told Rajan, this confusing Internet world is prompting “hundreds of thousands of Americans who’ve never paid for news before to pay for it for the first time.”