Ezra Klein on How To Break An Industry – Featured Session at SXSW 2018 [Video]

In How To Break An Industry, Vox co-founder and editor-at-large Ezra Klein discusses a common thread that links what is wrong in Congress to Silicon Valley and on Wall Street to the media and beyond. Klein looks at the wrongdoing found in each as the faults of individuals, but notes that individuals respond to the systems they’re part of, and it’s the systems that are broken. Klein explains how we've designed industries with incentives that make even good people act badly, and what we can do about it during his Featured Session at the 2018 SXSW Conference.

"I think we need to question some things that are pretty fundamental in the industries we've come to take for granted and even in the way we approach and interact with the world."

Klein gets into the specifics when talking about why things operate they way the operate. With each new industry he gives us the problem at hand, the incentive, and the rationalization. "The intensity the audience feels towards something, becomes a measure of its importance." As a member of the media, Klein's insight into that particular industry was interesting to note. He states the following:

  • The Problem: Clickbait, polarization, reactiveness, speed over depth
  • The Incentive (in most digital cases): Traffic, engagement
  • The Rationalization: Covering what shares vs covering what matters

During the closing session Q&A, an audience member asked, "Do you have any hope for the future?" Klein responded with, "Here's the thing, it's weird. Everything is terrible, an also it isn't..." Klein mentioned he had been reading many books about democracy and how they say it's worse now than ever before. "It's not, even in this country it is not. It is not worse than it was fifty years ago. This country disenfranchised massive portions of the electorate for basically its whole history." Klein went on to say, "So do I have hope for the future? I do. I actually think our system in many ways, though under a lot of stress right now, is getting better."

Watch the video above for the full How To Break An Industry Featured Session with Ezra Klein. Browse more 2018 Keynotes, Featured Sessions, Red Carpets, and Q&A’s on our YouTube Channel.

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Photo by Chris Saucedo/Getty Images

By Neha Aziz