Editor's note: This is the second of two articles on the media's fall from grace. Click here to read the earlier article.
The sad reality is that The Fourth Estate has abdicated its sacred responsibility of keeping American institutions honest and true.
No longer respected as the entity which holds feet to the fire and follows investigations wherever they may lead, the American media has instead become part and parcel of the establishment.
|The American media has abdicated its responsibility.
Too many journalists play the “go-along, get-along” game — some because it’s easy, others because they want to be liked, still others who are afraid they will lose “access” if they ask the tough questions.
These people have forgotten that their profession does not lend itself to having “friends,” since nothing and no one should ever be off the table. The result of these close alliances is blatant conflicts of interest, both personal and professional.
Once that line is crossed, it is nearly impossible to return.
No medium is immune from this malady. Those in television, radio, newspaper and Internet are all complicit. As an entity, the media has fallen down on its most basic journalistic responsibilities, losing its integrity, and ultimately its credibility, along the way.
Consequently, the public’s view of the media is at an historic low. And while complaints abound that the media is biased, which to a certain extent it is, this is but a symptom of a much greater illness.
A slant towards liberalism or conservatism is wrong, to be sure, but inherent laziness and, by extension, incompetence, are the first problems that must be rectified. Competence and vision will trump bias every time.
Resurrecting the media's image is a herculean task. And when the free press reaches the point where it is no longer believed, it stands on the edge of becoming completely irrelevant.
Whether it is nauseating nonstop coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's funeral procession or feel-good fluff stories in our nation's pre-eminent newspapers, the lack of hard-hitting investigative reporting and aggressive interviews with top national and international leaders is appalling.
Producers and editors are constantly looking over their shoulders at the competition, choosing to push out content to be like “every other station,” passing on golden opportunities to be different, to be journalists — to be leaders.
These people spend more time trying to keep their jobs than actually doing them.
There is a certain irony here. If media executives produced the quality work that the American people expect, their ratings would skyrocket, and advertisers would pay a premium.
The biggest myth being propagated about the bankruptcy of media companies is that they are victims of the economy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
They are victims of their own ineptitude.
Americans still have an unquenchable thirst for the news, but they are increasingly tuning out the mainstream media because the content is utterly lacking of substance.
The solution is simple — it's just not easy. Nothing and no one should be off the table. Not politicians, government officials, businessmen, media personalities, sports stars, nor celebrities.
With no agenda except the truth, the media should pursue stories with no boundaries and no restrictions.
Americans don’t gravitate to question marks, but exclamation points. It’s time to put the exclamation point back in the American press, not through new technologies and gimmicks, but by pursuing the only thing that matters: the truth.
As the voice in the classic baseball movie "Field of Dreams" commanded, “Build it and they will come.”
In the same way, if the media gets off its duff and starts producing content worthy of the world’s best press, readers and viewers will come — in unprecedented numbers.
Unfortunately, if former Democratic National Chairman (and former Pennsylvania Gov.) Ed Rendell takes over Philadelphia’s newspapers (along with wealthy Democratic powerbrokers and possible union leaders), the ballpark will be empty before the new game even begins.
And what a travesty that would be.
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