This blog, like so many others on both the Left and the Right, have no end of fun excoriating the Press for its mistakes, gaffes, and hypocrisy. The slightest error, the tiniest miscue, and there we are: exposing it, exaggerating it, and cross-linking so that there are hundreds of pages all correcting the same error the same way.
The Press snorts and says, If its such an easy job, why dont you do it?
Well, folks, it is an easy job: take a look at the sheer number of blogs that have burst onto the scene in the last few years. Thousands of Americans are doing it. And this ought to be a stunning warning sign to the Press that they arent doing their job. Maybe there is no correlation between the rise of blogs and the collapse of newspapers and decreasing news television ratings. Maybe there is.
Most Americans, it seems, hate the way the news is portrayed. If you are a liberal, you suspect a corrupt media dominated by big business and its interests. If you are a conservative, you find left wing bias everywhere. And thus every attempt to provide a balanced news story goes badly wrong.
Fact is, there never was an unbiased media. In olden days, Republicans bought their newspaper, Democrats bought their own, Liberals read their liberal paper while Conservatives had their own. Fiendishly biased. Yellow journalism. And it worked, because you were reading what you wanted to read, without noise from the other side. Yes, it was tainted and corrupt, but you knew it and could read through the BS easily.
Today, there exists this academic fantasy that the news can be unbiased and factual. However, that requires (in theory) unbiased and factual reporters: these do not exist, and you would not necessarily want them to exist. Intelligent people form opinions, and opinions color the facts. To make unbiased news work, you need unintelligent, unthinking, and uncaring reporters. Those, we have plenty of. So why isnt the news balanced?
Balance, which pretends to present both sides of an argument, is a similar pipe dream, because you only exaggerate unimportant positions and give legitimacy to screwball ideassometimes solely out of the deperation to have an opposing point of view. But some things are not black and white. And some things are so darn black that it makes white unnecessary. This is how real life works, even though it offends modern journalisms delicate sensibilities.
So instead of breaking news, we wind up with broken news. Unbiased, but unintelligent. And balanced in the same way the Stooges would build a makeshift ladder by stacking mismatched furniture to dangerous heights.
The reasons the mainstream media is such a travesty are well documented here at our site. Basically, it boils down to Journalism being a refuge major, the last bastion of people who could not survive Biology, and then dropped down to Sociology, who then dropped down to History, then Communications, until they found that, too, was pretty gosh-darn hard.
And like a pseudo-elitist Ponzi scheme, you gotta go to the right school if you want to get hired, because the editor at The Muscovy Times went to USC, and he only hires USC grads. Or you could get a degree from one of the hundreds of online journalism schools just a Google search away. Yes, it is that easy to get through Journalism without ever weeding out a single idiot. Face it, there are more learn-at-home journalism degree programs out there than gun repair-cum-dental assistant-cum-medical records transcriptionist courses for those insufficiently compensated by their GED.
Look, it isnt simply a matter of the news media being filled with a hemlock blend of morons and under-challenged academic types. The newspapers are failing badly thanks to the self-immolating unions and the idiotic business decisions that still think a printed paper can compete successfully with free online content. And the television news media is so intellectually bankrupt that the most popularand reliably well receivednews program out there is The Daily Show, which has made a repetitive success simply pointing out how stupid the news networks are. Wonder why their ratings are so high when the sole formula has been the same for a decade? America doesnt wonder; they know.
The problem is that the professional press, in every medium it exists, is on the ropes and sliding toward the mat fast. While so many of us would be happy to say so long and get lostyou were never the unelected branch of government you decided you were, and now you can go out and get a real jobthe Czar disagrees.
Because America still needs you. But you need to start getting it right: the increased polarization of politics is largely the result of the media screwing it up. The media is a major contributor to economic problems, not just now…but always (although you live in rich self-denial), due to over-reporting of bad economic news that scalds the nerves of the people that fuel it. And the erosion of science and technology knowledge is due to the medias slack-jawed worship of celebrities and pop culture: all flash over substance.
Yes, you are a self-created major problem. How can we fix this?
First, get over yourselves. Most of you werent born when Woodward and Bernstein were doing what they did. Stop trying to be them, and just do your jobs, not theirs. Truth is, its been a long time since youve been that necessary. Yes, yes, the Czar knows you will throw out all sorts of examples involving Pulitzers and corrupt politicians and people in jail. But ask a real person, and not a celebrity, what was the single greatest news discovery after Watergate, and you will get a silent stare. Because you have lost yourselves in your own self-congratulating noise.
Instead, strive toward better writing, genuine research beyond an AP press release, and actually get real liberal arts educations: that way, you can finally understand the context, the links between seemingly unrelated events, and the history that drives the news. Be your own Wikipedia for once.
There are many good examples of news reporting and analysis, but you will not find them in your mainstream sources. You might instead look somewhere you rarely do: try the links on the left-hand side of this page. Those are good places to start. Relevant ones, too. Maybe turn your snarky, critical, reformist eyes toward yourselves for a change.
There will be a story there for sure worth reading.