Mr Trump is the leading exponent of “post-truth” politics—a reliance on assertions that “feel true” but have no basis in fact. His brazenness is not punished, but taken as evidence of his willingness to stand up to elite power.
Art of the Lie, The Economist
As the media spectacle of this year’s presidential election gathers terrifying force in the remaining days before the votes are cast, speculation whether American journalists are acting responsibly is growing as well. Though much of this can easily be attributed to partisan game playing, an alternative view focusing on the responsibilities of news consumers expressed recently by Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone deserves more serious consideration.
It is the view of the Media Stewards Project that commercially driven broadcast journalism too easily succumbs to the siren song of sensationalism more likely to generate a large audience whose attention can profitably be sold to advertisers of every sort. Independently funded public media sources are better suited to help citizens understand this dynamic, but are not strong enough in the U.S. to provide the critical perspective citizens need to begin addressing the perilous state of our political dysfunction.
Encouraging citizens to acquire critical media literacy skills is essential for increasing their greater participation in the workings of our democracy.
The news chases squirrels, calls them rabid, and shoots them. [ ] Journalism does not inform.
James Fallows, author and national correspondent for The Atlantic, has thoughtfully analyzed the problems and shortcomings of American journalism for decades. In a recent blog, he reflected on the publication twenty years ago of Breaking The News: How The Media Undermine American Democracy. A condensed version of his book appeared in the Atlantic as Why Americans Hate The Media and is worth reading in this watershed presidential election year.
Respected media critic Jeff Jarvis covers much of the same ground in a recent blog excerpted here:
Imagine if even a fraction of the time we see wasted on cable news were devoted to educating the public about the issues and realities of immigration, refugees, criminal justice, the economy, infrastructure, education, health care costs, entitlement costs, security, the environment, taxes, jobs…. When was the last time you saw TV news do that? How much of any news organization’s work is devoted to doing this, to informing the electorate? Shouldn’t we ask before assigning every story and booking every TV discussion: How will this help the public better decide how to vote?
Journalism is failing the nation. This election is the proof.
These are powerful arguments spanning decades for citizens to reconsider the need for supporting a much more robust public media system providing a critical perspective on the circus atmosphere that has taken over our political process and contemporary journalism driven by overly dominant commercial media interests.