America has awakened. Or gone woke. So has American journalism, or much of it. Only two decades ago, boycotts of unpopular ideas and the people who held them were confined to extreme newsletters, obscure journals and college campuses, where students have long taken pride in shutting down provocative speakers.
But the decline of “legacy” newspapers and the growing concentration of power and influence in the hands of Big Tech – primarily Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter – have enabled those behind these causes to exert far greater influence.
While social media and digital platforms feature more diverse views of dramatically varying quality from more people from across the globe than ever before, they have also empowered as never before individuals and small groups of critics to bully and silence views they deem politically incorrect.
Posts on Twitter calling for activists to “rise up” in response to perceived intellectual and cultural offences instantly go viral. Online shaming, callouts, doxing (digging up and disseminating dirt on targets and foes) and so-called “cancel culture” writ large have become the order of the day.