Declining Press Seen Through Ideological Lens

Once upon a time, the medium that disseminated news to the general public was known as “the press.” These days, that term has been replaced by “media,” to account for the expansion of news reporting beyond print to include radio, television and the Internet. While the reach of the media has expanded, public trust continues to decline. (The Denver Post, Opinion, Mike Rosen, 2013 Feb 7, Advocacy corrupts journalism)

Mike Rosen is onto something in writing about the decline in quality of journalism. We’ve been seeing it as newsroom budgets shrink due in part to the mass consolidation of the press into just a handful of large conglomerates that value profit over a well-informed citizenry.

Here’s an example of why. Josh Elliot is an ABC-TV anchor who reads the news on “Good Morning America.” In that role, he’s supposed to perform as a reporter, not a commentator. Elliot is a youngish anchor from a generation of media liberals who don’t even pretend to conceal their bias.

Although his view that the problem lies with the “liberal media” is expected from this column, it is certainly not true. There is a much bigger problem that goes beyond any particular political perspective. The stories that grab the most eyeballs or ears will be covered, while the “veggies” we need to be an informed enough citizenry to perform well in a representative democracy are not. Ask a reporter why they don’t cover a story of great importance to public health or safety and their answer is that it’s not news if there hasn’t been a sudden change in the status quo. Their bosses are no longer concerned, primarily, with their role as “the press,” but have hijacked this critical fourth estate for private wealth accumulation. If we want to get healthy again as a nation, one step has to be breaking up the media monopolies through policy and second, supporting independent media individually.

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