Sunday, August 14, 2016

The strange, sad death of journalism

Since my time as a daily mainstream journalist covering everything from local city court to the White House and Congress,  the business model has been shaken to its core by the refusal of people to pat for news. Sad wonder that cat videos and click-bait headlines dominate.

This article -- -- by the Washington Post's Michael Gerson paints a dismal image that continue to grow darker.
"At its best, the profession of journalism has involved a spirit of public service and adventure -- reporting from a bomber during a raid in World War II, or exposing the suffering of Sudan or Appalachia, or rushing to the site of the World Trade Center moments after the buildings fell. 

"By these standards, the changes we see in the media are also a decline. 
Most cable news networks have forsaken objectivity entirely and produce little actual news, since makeup for guests is cheaper than reporting. 

"Most Internet sites display an endless hunger to comment and little appetite for verification. 
Free markets, it turns out, often make poor fact-checkers, instead feeding the fantasies of conspiracy theorists from "birthers" to Sept. 11, 2001, "truthers." Bloggers in repressive countries often show great courage, but few American bloggers have the resources or inclination to report from war zones, famines and genocides. 

"The democratization of the media -- really its fragmentation -- has encouraged ideological polarization. Princeton University professor Paul Starr traced this process recently in the Columbia Journalism Review. After the captive audience for network news was released by cable, many Americans did not turn to other sources of news. They turned to entertainment. 

"The viewers who remained were more political and more partisan. "As Walter Cronkite prospered in the old environment," says Starr, "Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann thrive in the new one. As the diminished public for journalism becomes more partisan, journalism itself is likely to shift further in that direction." 

Read the rest of this article: "The strange, sad death of journalism."

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