Some of the news fit to print

Problems with the news media? Why not. Flogging the media seems to be the biggest pastime to hit the Internet since Paris Hilton’s sex video. Goodness knows the media has its troubles. But I read so much punditry these days that takes shots here and there at the so-called “mainstream news media” that just makes me want to reach out and slap some people.

I read people’s rants on blogs against the “liberal” media. But most often these people are just ranting and can offer no proof for their contentions. Gee, do you think they got their proof from the likes of Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly or one of those, to use O’Reilly’s invective, “pinheads?” If you’re going to rail against something. I want to know why you are railing. You can call a duck a pig, but at least let me know why in the hell you are doing something so foolish.

Something else that is kind of baffling with all the media bashing is the touting of an “alternative media.” Certainly variations of news delivery exists beyond the so-called “mainstream news media.” Take Fox News, for example. Please! Fox is popular for many reasons. But one important reason is that it truly does have an obvious conservative bias in its news shows. And I don’t have a problem with that. There are magazines for conservatives, some for liberals and some in between. But don’t give me that “fair and balanced” crap. Because for the most part, Fox News is neither fair nor balanced.

Other alternative news sources exist as well. But many such sources are not really “news gatherers” as much as they are news commentary. Sure there are bloggers out there who actually go out and gather news. But I would guess the vast majority of those in the blogosphere get news that had at least some origin in the MSM. So certainly a lot of alternative voices exist out there but a lot of what they are saying includes slices of pie from the newspaper and TV.

What is really wrong with the media is more complex. Not to worry though because hand-wringing is the news industry’s primary activity.

Most of the problems I have with the news media are institutional. The concentration of media outlets into fewer and highly corporate hands is a real concern. The strains on the industry also takes it tolls on the quality of the product. You start bleeding money and another reporter bites the dust. Pretty soon you have one reporter covering not as ably the five or six beats that five or six others once had. I’ve seen it happen.

Other issues are out there as well. Quality control seems to be more of a problem nowadays because of both less seasoned editors and reporters. Then you have people who make crap up like Jayson Blair. That’s not good for the business. But with the exception of maybe a couple of handfuls of people I knew while working for newspapers, by and large the majority of media folks I have known are dedicated individuals who are passionate about doing a good job.

Oh no. Did I just defend the media? What in heaven’s name is wrong with me?

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