Magazine article The American Prospect

Blog Heaven

Magazine article The American Prospect

Blog Heaven

Article excerpt

ROBERT MCCHESNEY WILL GET NO ARGUMENT FROM ME on the vital importance of fighting to change the many ways our government policies have made possible the ongoing consolidation of media outlets into fewer and fewer corporate-controlled hands. Having the media controlled by roughly 20 or so megacorporations has clearly had a deleterious effect--lessening competition, squelching dissent, choking off debate, and elevating profit over the public good. But breaking the government-sanctioned monopolies of the media giants, while an essential step, is only part of the solution.

It's kind of like upgrading a computer. We absolutely must rewire the hardware by changing the way our government regulates the media. But we must also reprogram the software by finding ways to give mainstream journalism that which it most desperately needs: a spine transplant.

Battered by the Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley scandals, bloodied by the furor surrounding The New York Times" deeply flawed coverage during the run-up to war in Iraq, mainstream journalism is in a free fall, facing the ongoing defection of young Americans who would rather get their news from The Daily Show. And who can blame them? I'll take a Jon Stewart rant or a Tina Fey zinger over a New York Timesplays-Charlie-McCarthy-to-Ahmad-Chalabi's-Edgar-Bergen front page spin-lest every time.

In biblical times, Jonah was condemned to a dark journey in the belly of a whale for his complacency and relentless triviality. Today, thanks to the Fourth Estate's complacency and relentless triviality, the American people have been condemned to USA Today pie charts, brain-dead local news reporting, the latest on the Scott Peterson jury, and the endlessly repeated Nearing of the denizens of the Beltway echo chamber.

It takes a lot of energy to swim against the prevailing current. So the vast majority of mainstream journalists head in the direction the assignment desk points them. That's why we see so many stories tracking the results of the latest polls. Quoting polling data is now synonymous with reporting at many news organizations. As a result, polling data often become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Reporters are often reluctant to take on politicians with robust job-approval ratings. We saw it in the heady early days leading up to the Iraq War, when the president's 77-percent rating acted like a flak jacket, a Kevlar statistic cloaking him in an aura of invincibility. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.