A Self-Centered Press Corps
A number of recent events have revealed the declining state of journalism, and a lot of it is the result of pride and self-centeredness:
Expiring Tax Rates
Thanks to a recent press briefing, we now know why the so-called liberal press has been so Republican-friendly in the last decade: they benefit tremendously from the GOP’s war on taxing the wealthy. Why else are they obsessing on the tax policy for those with a net income of $250,000 – a sum that very few individuals or small businesses end up making (less than 1% in fact)? Robert Gibbs was amused and taken aback by their stubborn focus on this one issue. Check out the link, it’s definitely worth a read.
Facts Are Debatable
As Matt Yglesias and others have well-documented, if the newspaper industry is going to survive the digital transition and the current recession, they need to do so by protecting their brand and focusing on the kind of hard-nose reporting that made reporters like Woodrow and Bernstein famous. That is, they can’t just take dictation for their favorite politicians, obsess over gossip, or let their columnists get away with printing verifiable falsehoods in pursuit of a political agenda. Sadly, even the Washington Post has fallen into the trap of protecting the right-wing columnists they crave (for “balance”?) instead of protecting their own image as a serious paper of record.
Planned Publicity Stunts Portrayed As “Spontaneous”
Astroturfing is a term used to describe professional political activity masking itself as a grassroots movement. Recently, CNBC was caught with its pants down for allowing the right-wing to orchestrate a supposedly “impromptu” tea party in Chicago to protest the Obama Administration, an astroturf that began with one of their reporters’ pretending to rant on air and than translate the attention he received into, essentially, a product placement ad masking itself as a conservative anti-tax revolt.
People wonder why newspapers like the Rocky Mountain News and the San Francisco Chronicle are shutting down. Partly, it’s because the Internet is stealing their advertisers and their readership (who prefer instant news, not press-release-recitation the day of and event-regurgation and the day after). But partly, it’s because the journalism profession has given up on objectivity and become obsessed with their own self-interest and their own political preferences.
They are the past. We bloggers are the future.