It’s quite clear that the news business has taken a nosedive in recent years and luckily for the American people PEW has been there to document it. Their State of the Media report, out today, paints a pretty bleak picture of the media and the crap that is being funneled into what is called news.
As a news junkie and former political operative and press guy, a portion of the summary really stood out to me:
There are signs of this trend that carry beyond the political realm, as more and more entities seek, by various means, to fill the void left by overstretched editorial resources. Business leaders in Detroit, MI, for example, have created an organization to serve as a kind of tour guide to journalists with the goal of injecting more favorable portrayals of the city into media coverage. The government of Malaysia was recently discovered to have bankrolled propaganda that appeared in several major U.S. outlets under columnists’ bylines. A number of news organizations, including The Associated Press, recently carried a fake press release about Google that came from a PR distribution site that promises clients it will reach “top media outlets.” And recently, journalist David Cay Johnston in writing about a pitch from one corporate marketer that included a “vacation reward” for running his stories, remarked, “Journalists get lots of pitches like this these days, which is partly a reflection of how the number of journalists has shriveled while the number of publicists has grown.” Indeed, an analysis of Census Bureau data by Robert McChesney and John Nichols found the ratio of public relations workers to journalists grew from 1.2 to 1 in 1980 to 3.6 to 1 in 2008—and the gap has likely only widened since.
The fact is everything you consume in the media should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism.