Another reason why mainstream media is losing readers

A Failure of the Press

When we were attacked on Sept. 11, we knew the main reason for the attack was that Islamists hated our way of life, our virtues, our freedoms. What we never imagined was that the free press — an institution at the heart of those virtues and freedoms — would be among the first to surrender.

This provocative quote from a Washington Post article titled  A Failure of the Press by William J. Bennett and Alan M. Dershowitz represents another indication that people across the political spectrum are beginning to realize that the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities.

It has gone so far that the bias of the media is no longer an issue. The real question now is where will this abdication of responsibility end?

Reporting opinion as news has given way to outright support of organizations and causes which seek to destroy our American way of life. We really don’t need more enemies when the Fourth Estate is acting like a Fifth Column or is cowed by threats. See When fear cows the media By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist,  February 19, 2006.

To counter this spreading of disinformation and opinion as reality, we should refer to original sources before passing on inflammatory information as gospel. Otherwise we are like those clueless people who pass on bogus spam warnings or those people who absolutely believe that 9-11 was an inside job.

This isn’t a matter of political leanings. It is a necessity that we have a free and open press which expresses opinions and presents news. When opinion masquerades as news, there is a natural reaction in the physical universe and we see blogs supplanting MSM media when this occurs.

What is the future?

I think there is still a bright future for mainstream media, but it will have to clean house first. Today’s news is suspect and like the old story of finding too much rat shit in the coffee grounds, we are looking for other suppliers of news.

If I read the Daily Kos, I know in advance what the agenda is and can sift fact from opinion. If I read Instapundit, I know I am reading a Libertarian viewpoint. If I read Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler or Capitol Hill Blue, I know within seconds where the writer’s sympathies lie and can evaluate whether to believe the information presented. In addition, I can follow the links to see if they lead to actual source material or merely to others who have similar opinions and no facts.

I think the smaller independent newspapers get this already and have enlisted bloggers to help them stay balanced and still keep the costs down.

What news media do you trust?

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0 Responses to Another reason why mainstream media is losing readers

  1. David,

    While I always appreciate a link and a plug, I believe that placing Capitol Hill Blue in the same sentence as a known partisan blog is both misleading and a disservice. Blue is not a blog or a partisan site. It is a news operation that features the writings of several news professionals with diverse backgrounds and differing perspectives.

    This week, for example, we carried a column by Dale McFeatters that suggested the backlash on the UAE ports deal was driven by racism, not concerns over security. That certainly is not a position shared by many of our readers or the loyal opposition. We shine a critical light on both Democrats and Republicans and I am a non-partisan who distrusts all politicians and political parties.

    Bill Bennett and Alan Dershowitz may be political opposites but they share a fundamentalist approach to their respective religions and that partisanship is what drove their opinion. While I share their concerns over a press that tries to be too politically correct I doubt their concern is a real desire for a free press. What each wants is a press that is partisan towards thier issues and beliefs. I know Bill Bennett and he wants a press that only deals favorably with right-wing positions. A press that represents only one point-of-view is neither free nor effective.

    An effective free press is one that questions everything and suspects everyone. As a journalist, I have long subsribed to Finley Peter Dunne’s belief that it is the role of a journalist to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

    Doug

  2. Doug,

    You are a charmer and I know you have a good heart, but your non-partisan position is so far left you couldn’t see the center with field glasses. 🙂

    Your observations on the King funeral would seem to bear this out. I get the feeling you were watching a different funeral than I was.

    I do agree that you follow your principle of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” You also shoot a mean photograph.

    I think my pairing of you and Misha as opposites was, and is, still appropriate. Your blogs are both entertaining, but in my not so humble opinion the facts are highly seasoned with too much ranting. Anger, righteous or not, is destructive of the truth.

  3. Hmmm. A “leftie” who is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association? A “leftie” who believes in less government, less regulation and a free-market economy?

    One column or even two or three does not make one a “leftie” my friend. I suggest you do a little research into the archives of Capitol Hill Blue and see the stories and columns I have written about “lefties” before making an assumption. My body of work covers more than four decades and should be considered as a whole. To attempt to stereotype me as “right” or “left” is an insult to the standard that I have always tried to apply in my writing.

    You might want to read:

    The astounding, unreal world of Gary Condit

    Through the looking glass at 1600 Penn(When Bill Clinton was President)

    Night of shame for the journalism profession

    All the President’s women

    Frankly, I’m disappointed and hurt that you would make such a far-reaching judgment based on so little research. I’ve been a journalist for more than 40 years and my writings have always had one thing in common: A non-partisan approach to wrongdoing by any and all politicians. Truth is not the perogative of any political party or philosophy. Neither is corruption. Both cross party lines and I follow both wherever they go and apply the same standards of judgment against all.

    I’m sorry but I feel your comments slander my reputation as a journalist by claiming that I am “so far left” that I “couldn’t see the center with field glasses.” That is a slur that I cannot allow to go unchallenged.

    Doug

  4. wolske says:

    I’ll defend David’s supposed ‘slur’… Doug, did you not write this:

    “There is little doubt that George W. Bush will go down in history as one of the most controversial, morally-challenged, dishonest Presidents to serve at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

    I not a fan of Bush, but in light of President Clinton (controversial, morally-challenged, and dishonest), how could your statement NOT be perceived as being way out in Left field?

  5. loneranger says:

    Another interesting threat/opportunity for the mainstream media is the rise of community news aggregators like News Bump.

  6. Jim Brodhead says:

    Clinton’s conduct is too often used as a base line for a sort of “make good” attitude and response to statements critical of President Bush as in “Yeah, but what about the deplorable conduct of Clinton” Hey, Bush doesn’t get a pass on a screw-up just because Clinton’s lower brain took over. The performance baseline for a sitting President’s actions should not be lowered because of his predecessor’s flaws.

    Also, as I have already commented to Doug, a reader looking for bias will damn sure find it.

  7. Wolske comments:

    I’ll defend David’s supposed ‘slur’… Doug, did you not write this:

    “There is little doubt that George W. Bush will go down in history as one of the most controversial, morally-challenged, dishonest Presidents to serve at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

    I not a fan of Bush, but in light of President Clinton (controversial, morally-challenged, and dishonest), how could your statement NOT be perceived as being way out in Left field?

    I said Bush was “one of the most” not “the most.” I also said the same thing about Clinton, Richard Nixon, LBJ and other Presidents and elected officials (Democrat and Republican).

    The issue here is context and context is ill-served by taking one (or even several) columns out of thousands upon thousands of columns and articles written over a 40-plus year career and basing an opinion of one’s beliefs on such a small sample.

    Doug

  8. Doug,

    Your non-partisan position is what you choose it to be. My jest was ill-advised.

    As you say, no one should be categorized for one action or one statement.

    It is our actions and intentions that show who we are, and you have been a good friend.
    Do not let this one action of mine damage our relationship.

    Your body of work stands on its own. I respect it as do many others.

  9. Jim Brodhead says:

    Nicely done, Sir! That’s that sort of response that keeps constructive dialogue flowing in our severely polarized world.

  10. David St. Lawrence wrote:
    Your non-partisan position is what you choose it to be. My jest was ill-advised.

    As you say, no one should be categorized for one action or one statement.

    It is our actions and intentions that show who we are, and you have been a good friend.

    Do not let this one action of mine damage our relationship.

    David:

    No problem. I always take these things in context. 🙂

    Doug

  11. so says:

    I agree there is a major problem with the media. I also think there is a snowball effect occurring. The “pundits” – either media, politicians or someone with a microphone – feel they must make outrageously negative comments to be heard. Next, the public expects even more crazy commentary. If someone tries to insert sanity, they get bulldozed. A sad state of affairs.

  12. Carl says:

    No Carl don’t. Yes do it! No, don’t! I, I can’t stop myself…

    ” CAT FIGHT!!!!”

    Damn it! I have no self control.

    c’mon guys.

  13. Sean Pecor says:

    Doug strikes me as more of a Libertarian than a Republican or Democrat. I can draw unfair assumptions on Doug’s political leanings were I to read Capitol Hill Blue. However, I also suppose that if I were reading Capitol Hill Blue during the Clinton administration then I could have easily drawn a different assumption of his leanings. This is much the same way as the Drudgereport.com web site. During the Clinton administration, Matt Drudge spent a good long time casting Clinton in a poor light. He does much the same today with Bush.

    I think mainstream media has a slightly shrinking audience because there is now more choice than ever. I also believe if you remove opinion from the news then you are left with material as stimulating as a history textbook, and we all know how fast those are flying off the shelves.

    In general, I believe people tend to gravitate toward a news media outlet that, in general, is most compatible with their own perspective on life. Personally, I listen to NPR and Radio IQ almost exclusively for my news, because it is more often people like Diane Rehm who allow opposing voices to freely and respectfully “duke it out” so that those listening can have a more informed opinion.

    Sean

  14. I overreacted big time to what David said and to his conclusions. David and Gretchen know the emotional roller coaster I rode last week but that is not offered as an excuse nor should it be used as one. I posted the following on Blue Ridge Muse this morning:

    A few days ago I put on my best self-righteous face and climbed on my high horse to bitch and moan because fellow blogger and friend David St. Lawrence called my writings left of center.

    My over-the-top tirade has no place here, went beyond the bounds of rational discourse and has been removed from this blog. David simply, and correctly, assessed recent writings that deal with the current administration and any logical conclusion would place them far to the left of center. While I consider myself a non-partisan, expecting anyone to know that from recent writing is, as a lawyer friend likes to say, “assuming facts not in evidence.”

    My apologies to David for publicly taking him to task for making a correct assumption. I was wrong and I am sorry.

    Doug

  15. Doug,

    You are a good friend. I value your friendship and all of your viewpoints!

    Feel free to take me to task whenever you wish. My sense of humor occasionally skirts the bounds of common sense.

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