Matt Taibbi in his Substack newsletter:
After the Internet arrived and flooded the market with new voices, some outlets found that instead of going after the whole audience, it made more financial sense to pick one demographic and dominate it. How? That’s easy. You feed the audience news you know they will like. When Fox had success targeting suburban and rural, mostly white, mostly older conservatives – the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes infamously described his audience as “55 to dead” – other companies soon followed suit.
Now everyone does it. Whether it’s Fox, or MSNBC, or CNN, or the Washington Post, nearly all Western media outlets are in the demographic-hunting business. This may be less true in Canada, where there’s a stronger public media tradition, but in the U.S., it’s standard.
Call it the “audience-optimization” model: instead of starting with a story and following the facts, you start with what pleases your audience, and work backward to the story.