Thursday, January 26, 2017

The mainstream media is dead, long live something else

  • ABC’s Muir Left Speechless After Trump Brings Up March for Life ~ NewsBusters
  • ABC News Apologizes After Editing Former Bush Spox’s Praise of Sean Spicer to Sound Like Attack ~ Mediaite
And that's just ABC. This week.

As you'll see at the bottom of this post, I label pieces about journalism "the fourth estate."

Advertising has gone to Google.
Thomas Carlyle attributed the origin of the term to Edmund Burke, who used it in a parliamentary debate in 1787 on the opening up of press reporting of the House of Commons of Great Britain. "Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all."

Today our fourth estate is casting about for an identity and a purpose. What we call the "mainstream media" or the "legacy media" has thoroughly corrupted itself in partisanship, as the election demonstrated time and again. Donald Trump ran against the fourth estate, and he won. Here's why:
Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media "to report the news fully, accurately and fairly" has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year.
Moreover, the traditional business model of the legacy media has collapsed. Print is dying fast, and the big media outlets aren't yet sure how to make money online. Witness:

The New York Times, reporting on its own study of itself, says:
The report comes at a particularly sobering time for the legacy media industry. The steep and continuous decline of high-margin print advertising has led to significant financial challenges for most newspapers, which in turn are cutting costs and trying to find new revenue sources. 
News organizations, including The Wall Street Journal and Gannett, have made significant cuts in staffing; The Journal is currently conducting a newsroom review similar to that of The Times, called WSJ2020.
Meantime, the Times is vacating at least eight floors in its iconic building, allowing it to "generate significant rental income." Uh huh.

The Washington Post, once owned by the Graham family, which had a journalistic mindset, is now owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose specialty is putting things in boxes. Unlike his newspaper, he's doing okay: He just bought the biggest house in Washington.

All the Carlos fit to print.
The New York Times, in contrast, is owned by a billionaire Mexican named -- wait for it -- Carlos Slim. Here's what Carlos knows:
Though the Times has not always been the best investment for Slim, his large stake in the paper has exempted him from being the target of negative coverage.

Slim regained the title of world’s richest man last year and his net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $79.6 billion. His wealth is the product of his ownership of Mexican telecom giant América Móvil, which has benefited from the cronyism of the industry in Mexico. 
The company has also benefitted from a United States welfare program that gives out “Obama phones.” One of the major suppliers of the free cell phones given out by the government is TracFone, a U.S. subsidiary of América Móvil. 
Slim has become such a villain in Mexico that protestors have used kazoos to serenade him with the Imperial March from Star Wars.
Guess what you can buy on Amazon. That's right, a TracFone.

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