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Recent news about the media’s financial misfortunes confirms the beliefs of those who mistrust and condemn Big Media.
It’s no secret that newspapers, for a long time, have been in big trouble. American newspapers have long been stuck in a slow decline that has accelerated in recent years. Circulation of U.S. newspapers peaked in 1984-1987, and has fallen 49% since then. Total circulation (weekdays and Sundays) for U.S. newspapers–both print and digital– fell 8% in 2016, then fell another 11% in 2017. Advertising revenues have also fallen dramatically; total ad revenue in 2016 ($18 billion) was nearly one-third of what it was just 10 years prior ($49 billion in 2006).
Employment in the newspaper industry has also plummeted– there was a 45% drop in the number of reporters, editors and photographers from 2004 to 2017.
How did this happen? Well, start with 1998 when the newspaper industry lost its future, largely due to bad decisions by their lobby, the New Century Network. That year, the industry chose the wrong path and rejected a wholesale move to online electronic media, instead choosing hunker-down strategies to stay with the rotary press. They rejected the “new media” technologies that were not possible just with print, and embraced only limited online projects.
The mainstream media’s circulation declines are due in part to several problems. Scandals at many newspapers in the 2000 decade revealed that publishers were fraudulently fudging their circulation numbers to keep ad revenues high. Big stories rooted in plagiarism, non-existent “sources”, attack journalism, and false documents caused widespread declines in public trust of newspapers.
But a more serious reason for Big Media’s decline and fall is that editors and reporters began turning off readers with slanted news coverage, negative and sensational stories, and biased, unbalanced editorial policies. Editorial arrogance made many readers fed up and offended.
The outcome? Pew Research reported 85% to 90% of people came to believe the media was biased.
Many Americans stopped watching and reading most mainstream media, because they no longer believed it. The old, partisan media used to have a monopoly on what was news. Old media chose the news, they framed it, they colored it with their bias, and they fed it to us. Over time, the press lurched out of control and entered the era of Big Media Spin.
If broadcasters and newspapers didn’t print it or show it, we didn’t know it happened. But now, the internet and social media allow us to see for ourselves what Big Media chooses not to cover. Through the internet, we can contrast what we learn there against what news editors are telling us. We can judge for ourselves and have learned to see the spin.
The result? Big Media lost readers and viewers, lost respect and effectiveness, and lost the power to influence outcomes. Mainstream media became out of touch, more interested in being first than in being right.
The public is weary of the liberal spin of mainstream journalists, spouting their personal opinions and giving undue attention to the “progressive” political/social views of celebrities and flaky hot-shots with no qualifications other than a pretty face or a sneer.
Readers see that old media don’t report positive economic news, but are obsessed with doom-and-gloom coverage. Mistakenly, the media believe they must be critical to be credible. Readers have caught on to the partisan media’s mission to hypnotize voters everywhere to their slanted worldview, accuracy be damned.
Newspapers have maneuvered themselves into the position of needing failure. Failures are controversial and emotional and can be sensationalized. Newspapers need failures by Trump and Republicans everywhere. Why? Failure captivates, attracts eyeballs, sells newspapers, and undermines the electability of politicians that newspapers want to discredit. Big Media chooses to Blame America First.
Thankfully, American eyes have been opened to alternative ways to gather news. The old media is being damaged, the elite media monopoly is being abolished and there is not much they can do about it unless they eliminate bias. They are the victims of their own arrogance.
Newspapers like to say they speak for the people. Yet, nothing exemplifies the arrogance of editors more than those who state they “represent the public”. Hooey! In fact, this conceited attitude is one cause for newspapers’ and broadcasters’ fall from glory. News editors don’t understand that the only people who “represent the public” are our elected representatives. It’s called the consent of the governed. While the press may serve the public, as do police and firefighters, there is no consent by the voters that the press represents them or anything except its own views, its own agenda.
If the Palm Beach Post and other newspapers want to regain readers, they better tell their reporters to eliminate personal opinions in news reporting, and tell their editors to stop editorializing the news. Stop hiring people who believe it’s their job to change the world. Stop criticizing your own country’s successes. Cease with the dishonesty of political correctness. Quit pretending to be objective on your news pages. Stop abetting the character assassinations.
If lying newspapers and broadcasters don’t change, they’ll continue their plunge into irrelevancy.
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