(The animation has nothing to do with the post, I am just trying to boost readership. It is my Page 3….)
The media are under attack. This has been going on for some time now. Only some of it is deserved.
The media, especially print newspapers, are under attack on two fronts: from potential advertisers who have come to believe that print is becoming irrelevant and from those to the right side of the political spectrum who have begun to believe that the media are wrong on everything.
The first problem is largely a matter of adjusting to the new Reality of media usage brought on by technology and promulgated by Millennials. It is media Darwinism: only the fittest shall survive.
The second is more troublesome because it entails a basic lack of understanding about the media’s role in our society and an apparent unwillingness to even try to understand. Instead there is a knee-jerk negative attitude — that often includes violence – toward the media and media workers. This could be seen with the incident with the reporter who was attacked by a candidate in the Montana congressional race Wednesday night.
Most attacks against the media are not physical, but verbal, however, as with Trump calling the media the “enemy of the people” or his many complaints about “fake news” and “dishonest media.” But this attitude sets up the physical violence by making it seem acceptable.
The press is envisioned by nearly everyone as part of our checks and balances system, as a Fourth Estate, or a fourth branch of government. Its job is to be a watchdog, looking over government to be sure people don’t overstep their authority. To be successful as a mediaworker then, you must root out misdeeds by those in charge and to be successful as a media outlet, you must do this regularly and be first in reporting it as well.
So it is more or less mediaworkers’ job to be skeptical, to distrust the accounts of politicians, who are not well known for their truthtelling. I know it may seem sometimes like “Gotcha” journalism, but that’s sort of what they do. It’s not that journalists are inherently against politicians of any stripe, it’s that they see their job as afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.
This point of view is more aligned with the Democratic/liberal/progressive point of view, so the job naturally attracts people who share that world view. There is really no conspiracy or evil intent of some cabal of evil journalists to all swear allegiance to taking down politicians. It just appears that way.
It wasn’t that long ago that people were whining about the conservative owners of the media and how they influenced the news. My oh my how the times have changed.
I think the worst thing is how Trump has picked on and even named (see Tur, Katie) members of the media and then whipping the crowd into a frenzy of boos. It’s a wonder that we have gone as far as we have without an incident of physical violence like the one in Montana. It really needs to stop. Now. The press is not your enemy.