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“Mainstream” Media are Taking a Beating

Alex Constantine - May 7, 2008


Posted by CrisisPapers in Editorials & Other Articles
May 06th 2008, 12:15 PM
Ernest Partridge

It is very difficult for an old liberal like me to be sympathetic about the plight of the corporate media, given the way they have behaved of late. But the simple fact of the matter is that the commercial news media have fallen into a deep financial pit, and that is both good news and bad news for the political health of our republic.

In 2005, newspaper circulation declined over the previous year by 2.6 percent, with the largest declines posted in the major newspapers. Still worse, in 2007, newspaper advertising revenue fell by 9.4 percent. As a result of this shrinkage, in 2007 2,400 journalists lost their jobs, and 15,000 have been canned in the last decade.

The predicament of network TV evening news programs is still more desperate. In 1980, the combined audience for the NBC, CBS and ABC newscasts was 53 million. Just last month, that audience tallied at 21.5 million: about seven percent of the US population. And the median age of that audience is 60.2, which means that the networks are failing to reach the essential younger age cohorts.

The newspaper and broadcast industries cite a number of alleged reasons for these figures: the internet, competition from cable news programs, and declining literacy and political interest among the public.

Missing from this list is "the crud factor"; namely, that the quality and credibility of reporting has deteriorated so spectacularly that the public, fed-up with the insults and lies, has turned to other sources of news and information. As Newsweek's Tony Dokoupil reports: "less than one person in five believes what he reads in print... and nearly nine of ten Americans believe that journalists are actively biased."

The good news: at long last, the mainstream media is being punished for its failure to perform its essential service to the public; which is the presentation of accurate and relevant news along with competent, informed and diverse opinion. ...

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