Straight to the Source — Bypassing the Gatekeepers
Why Trump & Brexit Calls for Primary News Gathering

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The Western world is going through immense technological and cultural change, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the intersection of politics and the media. Technology has enhanced individualism and made people less attached to mainstream political parties and traditional sources of information. This trend was exemplified in 2016 with two political shocks — Britain’s vote in favour of exiting the European Union (Brexit) and the victory of Donald Trump in the United States presidential election. To some extent, Malcolm Turnbull’s narrow election win in 2016 also exposed serious shortcomings in the ability of the mainstream media to read and influence the public’s voting intentions.

These surprise results also had a significant impact — both positive and negative — on financial markets and consumer and business confidence, especially in Britain. In the US, the initial market sell-off was followed by a rally in equity markets as investors quickly reassessed the economic implications of Trump’s expansionary agenda. These events show how business leaders and other decision makers may be better informed by changing the way they garner intelligence on current affairs in the political space.

This paper examines the factors behind the loss of relevance and reliability of the mainstream media. It will outline the societal and technological changes that are driving this trend, focusing mainly on three key factors. First, the cultural make-up of media professionals is an important but little known factor. That is, many journalists, like politicians, come from a limited range of backgrounds and tend to operate within an elitist bubble that narrows their exposure to wider societal changes.

This is magnified by a second factor, technological change and the explosion of social media, which has been a transformational force in both the media and political landscapes. And finally, a third key factor is the nature of political polling and the excessive influence it has on the media and politicians. The combination of these factors has led to a decrease in significance of the mainstream media, with the effect that professional and other business leaders are now better served by consuming consolidated, curated streams of primary sources rather than traditional media sources – particularly where politics is concerned.

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