by Miranda Katz, Medium.com
A new study, by a respected scholar on internet culture, winds up a penetrating indictment of journalism’s internal inconsistencies. A new report titled “The Oxygen of Amplification” offers an unprecedented look at the fundamental paradox of reporting on the so-called “alt-right”: Doing so without amplifying that ideology is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible. The report comes out of the Data & Society research institute’s Media Manipulation Initiative, and is written by Whitney Phillips, author of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Internet Culture. It draws on in-depth conversations with dozens of journalists (including WIRED’s Emma Grey Ellis, who reports frequently on the topic) to illustrate an uncomfortable truth: Journalists inadvertently helped catalyze the rapid rise of the alt-right, turning it into a story before it was necessarily newsworthy.