Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Slow Death of Old Media

Lately I've seen a number of columns and commentaries lamenting the passing of various newspapers and news agencies. They all say something to the effect of: "The new media or blogosphere is great, but we need to preserve traditional news sources if only to have trained reporters who know how to ferret out the facts and have the resources to do the primary research on which members of the new media must rely." Frankly, I find abject irony in such statements. Of what use are a journalism degree and research skills if a reporter can't report a story with at least a modicum of objectivity -- if there is little or no difference between his "news" reporting and the editorial page? All the research in the world means nothing if the reporter can't detect an obviously fraudulent document (as in the so-called "Rathergate" incident in 2004), simply because he desperately wants it to be genuine, or else ignores great mounds of evidence, often attacking the messenger (as in the ongoing "anthropogenic climate change" controversy), because it doesn't fit a certain political narrative. Old media are dying because virtually no one likes such propagandizing, and if no source can be trusted to give an even-handed accounting of the news, the average consumer will naturally listen to those commentators who share his viewpoints.