Fallows, writing in his personal blog, called attention to an article he wrote in 1996 - before Bush, before 9/11, before the crash -- at the very height of our Glory Days: Why Americans Hate the Media. In brief, Fallows was merciless. Americans dislike the media, he concluded in 1996 because ... they had performed miserably. Everything he wrote then is true today. There are some great exceptions (some print journalists turned bloggers, Fallows himself, some astounding science writers) but there are lots of disasters. The punditry is an almost complete mess, and the beltway media is as bad today as it was 11 years ago.
Today Fallows writes "several times I have considered revisiting the whole what's-wrong-with-the-press question and have instead plugged on with other topics -- Iraq policy, China -- for reasons that boil down to: what's the point? The problems with the media are the same as I tried to describe 11 years ago -- just worse, and with new technology. But there's always tomorrow..."
The media didn't reach the basement by itself of course. Advertisers and bottom-line editors and owners drove many there, though some made it through egomania alone. Americans, above all, spent the money that justified those decisions. In consumer action as in American politics, the blame ultimately falls on the American citizen. Of course since newspapers are hemorrhaging money, maybe Americans have reformed a bit ...
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