The media has ceased being essential reading

SUMMARY: Ironically, more and more media portals want to put their content behind a paywall when it’s become worthless. CNN used to be a trusted source for news now; they run sensationalist headlines for clicks. No wonder more people are turning to social media.

According to the Washington Post, “artificial intelligence can now precisely measure the negativity. At my request, Forge.ai, a data analytics unit of the information company FiscalNote, combed through more than 200,000 articles — tens of millions of words — from 65 news websites (newspapers, network, and cable news, political publications, news wires, and more) to do a “sentiment analysis” of coverage. Using algorithms that give weight to certain adjectives based on their placement in the story, it rated the range Biden received in the first 11 months of 2021 and the coverage President Donald Trump got in the first 11 months of 2020.

The findings, painstakingly assembled by FiscalNote vice president Bill Frischling, confirmed my fear: My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.

After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as — and for a time worse than — the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.

Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to get the “big lie,” the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office.

And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today. Sure, Biden has had his troubles with the delta variant, Afghanistan, and inflation. But the economy is rebounding impressively, he has signed significant legislation, and he has restored some measure of decency, calm, and respect for democratic institutions.

Why? Because real journalism is dying. It’s being killed by bean counters who don’t understand that objective journalism is worth paying for and that there is a vast difference between “writing” and journalism.

One of the critical public goods that the media provides is investigative reporting, public accountability journalism. It’s expensive. It takes time. It takes training. It takes a methodology. 

Matt Taibbi says “in the Internet age, when everybody’s revenue is tied to content, and people are constantly surfing, it’s challenging to justify that kind of work financially. You can get the same financial return from a 200-word article or a tweet, or especially a viral video. Companies are very tempted to forgo that kind of investment. They’ve figured out that audiences, for the most part, don’t require it in the same way that they used to. And so, people are no longer investing in that kind of work with the same passion. It’s a severe problem. Where are we going to find people to do those massive exposes anymore?

The internet was supposed to make us smarter, but that’s been proved to be wrong. We have come to an age when we question everything we read, and real journalists are unemployed.

The media has ceased being essential reading

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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