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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

journalism's future « Previous | |Next »
April 28, 2011

Once upon a time, the media performed a critical role in the political life of democracies: in its fourth estate function, the news media served as the (self-appointed) guardian of the public interest. On this model regulations, from the “fairness doctrine” to a requirement for “public service” programming, affected radio and TV coverage to help ensure clear, objective reporting. This is the liberal model of the media in a parliamentary democracy.

This is no longer the case in that the news media more often than note fails to deliver on much of its promise, given the relentless focus on scandal, spectacle, celebrity and the “game” of politics. We sense the inevitability of the shift away from the fourth estate function to the infotainment world carnival barkers in sideshow alley with the destruction of the “bundled” business model for newspapers, which allowed classified ads in the real estate section to underwrite a bureau in Baghdad or Cairo.

The new model---the infotainment one--is giving readers what they want; a market-minded approach to gossip, technology, sex talk, and so on. This is the model with its web metrics of where journalism is heading.

There is little public appetite for hard political journalism and the size of the audience for political news in the old formats is quite small.

We understand that the media will probably become more and more market-minded, and that imposed civic obligations in the form of legal requirements or traditional publishing norms is having, and will probably continue to have less and less effect. Murdoch's Fox News, for instance, is understood be a political rather than a journalistic operation.

We are entering, or rather have entered, a new media landscape; one in which a new culture of journalism is in formation. This is one in which deception and lies become the norm instead of truth and facts; the media becomes more politically partisan and polarized; fake interviews replace real ones;

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:17 PM | | Comments (4)


Gary,a pedantic nit pick.
Unless you are playing devils's advocate or bending over backwards to be generous I'm not sure I can agree that your opening paragraph above is accurate.
Like other fairy stories 'once upon a time' is a largely mythical time of an imagined golden age long past ,if ever existing, outside the memory of self serving apologists in the media.

Mass media has pretty much always been the domain of large corporations, maybe some smaller regional/independent entities briefly had some influence but for a century or more mass media has been dominated to a lesser [doubtful], now greater [doubtless], degree by large to absolutely huge media corporations.
They have never been interested in democracy or the public good or 'clear objective reporting'.
Their primary and overriding interest has always been the delivery of eyeballs,and ears to their advertisers themselves primarily large corporations.
Yeah I know their was a brief period when some media print organisations were significantly supported by sales rather than ads but that was a long time ago [before my lifetime] and was a rarity then and even more so in the last several decades.
The only relatively major publication I can think of that has defied the trend to subservience to advertising is the case of "Ms" magazine who have managed to survive after ditching advertising as they saw it specifically and generically undermining their journalistic integrity.
Maybe there are other similar examples but they all pale into insignificance compared to the overriding reach and influence of the eyeball delivering mass media of the last several decades.

I can agree wholeheartedly with the thrust of your later paragraphs, partisan deception as the 'norm' for alleged journalism.
But I reckon this has been[pretty much] the case for yonks where yonks is many decades say since WW2 or even prior.

For a while there recently I was getting a tad optimistic about the emergence of citizen journalism via the net, of which your blog is a good example. There is hope that the corporatist model will not apply there and there exists a niche for non capitalist propaganda.

I'm still a tad [a tad is a pretty small unit of size] optimistic but we entered into a blatant culture of social propaganda via the mass media a very long time ago, almost immediately the technology made such possible.
It ain't new,

I've added a sentence to the first paragraph: 'This is the liberal model of the media in a parliamentary democracy "

Does that address your criticism?


But it was nice having a long rant.

So... we need something with the charter of the ABC more than ever, and The Oz is trying harder than ever to kill the ABC (which addresses a market The Oz and Hun, and associated TV channels, won't service)...