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.
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.