Why the Public Hates (Some) Joumalists
Whatever else one may say about the newspaper business, self-examination is one of its virtues. Searching questions about right conduct or wrong conduct are put whenever journalists gather.
-- Marquis W. Childs ( 1970)
No question about it, many of the most prominent personalities in journalism today have become unpopular with segments of the American public. This is shown in public opinion surveys as well as in caustic comments from a wide range of commentators including from within the press itself. In general, many people feel that journalists, along with politicians, are not dealing with the real concerns of the people. (This chapter's title suggests that the perception of scorn is not directed at all journalists, just mostly at one group -- those on the highly visible national media based in New York City and Washington, DC.)
Public affairs news, the heart of serious journalism, is the focus of this criticism, striking most deeply at a press perceived as estranged from its readers and viewers. Journalist J. Schell ( 1996) wrote:
On one side is the America of those who are political professionals. It comprises politicians, their advisers and employees, and the news media. Politicians waste little love on the newspeople who cover them, and the newspeople display a surly skepticism towards politicians as a badge of honor. Yet if the voters I met on the [ 1996] campaign trail are any indication (and poll data suggest they are), much of the public has lumped newspeople and politicians into a single class, which, increasingly, it