Everyone dumps on the mainstream media left right and center these days. The question is, is it really as bad as all that and if so what’s the alternative?
Last I checked — and I do know a fair amount about this subject having worked in the media business for a decade — major news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and dozens of newspapers around the country still employee hundreds if not thousands of investigative journalists that have broken and reported on virtually every major news story since the beginning of time.
Make no mistake, the mainstream media is the reason that disgraced Olympic doctor Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars. The MSM broke the Harvey Weinstein story that sparked the #MeToo movement. Not to mention all the corporate scandals at Theranos, Mylan and Wells Fargo.
More important, I would conservatively estimate that at least 99.9% of the mainstream media’s news coverage — not political commentary or editorials, mind you, but news reporting — is entirely accurate. I challenge anyone to find a news story in the Journal or the Times that gets it wrong. Just one. Any takers?
Sure there is rampant political bias, especially on cable news networks, but do you really think there’s less bias at alternative news sources like HuffPo, Buzzfeed, Vox, Vice, the Verge, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg, Politico, the Atlantic, Media Matters, Mother Jones, Breitbart, Vanity Fair, the Christian Science Monitor, the New Yorker, the Federalist, Wired, Rolling Stone and aggregators like Google and Yahoo?
Do you really think your Facebook friends that supply links to your newsfeed are unbiased, or that the stories they share are all investigated with journalistic integrity? Not to suggest that there may be sensational click bait, fake news, conspiracy theories or overhyped crazes on social media. Don’t be silly.
I’ve seen what happens when people completely abandon mainstream journalism in favor of alternative news. They inevitably devolve into a twisted mass of half-baked conspiracies, looney theories and fanatical fads that result in special counsels, unvaccinated kids, gluten-free diets and tweets like this one:
— RSBN (@RSBNetwork) January 27, 2018
Today’s media landscape is complicated and nuanced. It may not be perfect but then it never was. And growing competition from digital has decimated newsrooms and forced a more sensational bias into headlines. The mainstream media may have its issues but painting all major news outlets with the same broad brush and throwing the whole baby out with the bathwater is a big mistake.
My biggest beef is how the scourge of political correctness has skewed the media’s objectivity. If I could change one thing it would be to eliminate political correctness from newsrooms everywhere. It has no place there or anywhere else for that matter.
Investigative journalism is critical for a free society to function, and like it or not, the vast majority of it still comes from a handful of major news outlets. Back in the day when I ran marketing for several big tech companies our PR strategy was simple: Get the Journal and everyone else will follow. That strategy is still valid to this day.
Look. Our system of representative democracy and free-market capitalism is far from perfect; the same is true of the MSM. Nevertheless, in an era when user generated content and countless media sites are flooding our social media feeds with all sorts of ludicrous nonsense, ask yourself a simple question: Where does reliable news come from? The answer may surprise you.