It is somewhat ironic then, that the journalism distributed via these networks will be increasingly generated by non-US sources. To many, this might seem like a blessed liberation from the pervasive Americanization of culture through the likes of MTV and CNN in the heady days of cable expansion. But one can see why Hillary Clinton talks about other countries “winning” the information war, and why this might be of concern to the US.

News journalism will come through these free, commercial, private platforms as much as through any other means, including the broadcast channels of old. In this respect the future of public media is already here. It is networked and highly dispersed.

But in another way, it still feeds on the ability of individuals and organizations to present reports and perspectives, to motivate debate and action. And in that realm, it is unclear what the US national news identity might be, or how it might be funded.

It may be that the notion of the cross-national news brand, such as the BBC, is outmoded, but this seems a premature and quite possibly wrong conclusion. Signal is needed above noise, and professional journalists at their best should be about signal.

What is clear is that in a world where the rapid deployment of news has widespread impact but limited economic value, to stick rigidly to the idea that the market will provide for it is a high-risk strategy.

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Emily Bell is director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a member of CJR's Board of Overseers.