Mainstream Media sucks
April 11, 2007
I’ve been off the mainstream media’s (MSM) op-eds for 6 months and I feel great. No more newspaper opinions & editorials. No more Sunday morning talk shows. No more political mud wrestling on TV talk show. My mind is clear, my blood pressure dropping, and I’m more relaxed. The criticism by bloggers of the MSM reminds me a bit of Kuhn’s criticism of science. Both journalism and science pretend to be objectively searching for the Truth. Kuhn showed that there are sociological forces that cause science to move in spurts (revolutions), rather than a gradual linear increase in knowledge. Similarly, bloggers expose the psychology, sociology and business pressures within the MSM: they reveal how the sausage is made! Modern mainstream journalism fails because journalists are pitiably human.
For a briefing on how the MSM sucks, just watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report mock the superficial dreck on television news. The same criticisms apply to most newspapers. But why are they so bad? Here’s a few reasons:
- Journalists get too close to sources because they are kissing the asses of the rich, powerful and connected. They are no longer a check on power.
- Journalists repeat the memes in the media echo chamber without thinking independently. Just read the NYTimes since everybody plagiarizes from them anyway.
- Balance is taken too far. They’ll quote an expert, then they’ll quote anyone else who disagrees with him, no matter how insane: “Bi-Polar Bob believes aliens live among us. How do you respond, Dr. Einstein?”
- They focus on the political process rather than the policies. They don’t ask whether a health care policy is sound, they only ask if it can pass. It’s like People magazine for politics.
- Op-ed writers never admit they are wrong; instead, they quietly switch their positions and pray no one searches the online archives.
- Journalism is a business. Since few people are interested in in-depth news, television news is mostly vapid puff pieces or “headlines with pictures” but no substance. Newspapers are turning into this, too.
My biggest problem with the MSM is that it pretends to be objective, which is impossible. A journalist’s and editor’s viewpoint colors how the story is told. It influences which sources you contact, which leads you follow, which quotes you include, etc. The MSM doesn’t lie, but it shapes the story they want to tell: lies of omission, not commission. FOX news, the right wing propaganda machine, is an excellent example, but all MSM subtly spin stories in their preferred direction. I still read some news (WSJ’s business news, NYTimes world news) but I’m a much more critical reader. The MSM has only themselves to blame for their remarkably low standing in public opinion polls.