OCALA, Fla., February 28, 2014 — We live in an age of digital information technology.
Journalism has seen a tidal wave of change over the last two decades. Once-invincible print periodicals have fallen on their knees or closed their doors for good. Network news programs have given way to cable news channels which are now being contested by the blogosphere.
For better or for worse, the times are changing without a single glance back.
Looking at the situation from a comprehensive perspective, it becomes obvious that print publications, by and large, are going the way of the dinosaurs. Internet news outlets, meanwhile, are flourishing.
During the years ahead, will this contribute to or detract from the problem of media bias?
“Media bias is most damaging when it is unacknowledged and widespread,” Norman Solomon says to Communities Digital News. He is a longtime activist for leftish causes, ranging from the anti-nuclear energy movement to opposing various military conflicts. Solomon is most well known, however, for his journalistic work, which revolves around exposing and preventing biased reportage. In 1997, he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy and had a nationally syndicated column from the early ’90s until 2009.
Solomon continues: “If we had a healthy ecology of diverse viewpoints from media outlets overall, then bias would be less of an overall concern. But because the bias is largely shaped by big ownership and corporate advertising, the bias tends to run in similar directions — pro-corporate, tilted toward wealth and deferential to U.S. government foreign policy.”
Bernie Goldberg is one of our country’s most recognizable reporters. In recent years, he has devoted his career to analyzing media coverage. While this has not come without controversy, it resulted in a string of bestselling books and a revived conversation about the role that bias plays. More or less, his political views lean toward the right.
“As bad as the so-called mainstream media can be in terms of liberal bias, they’re not in the same league with what passes for news on a lot of sites on the Internet,” Goldberg told this journalist in 2012. “Serious news sites on the Internet at least try to play fair; their biases aren’t blatant. But the Internet has a million places you can go for “news” – and a lot of those places are unapologetically biased, drawing readers who revel in that particular kind of bias.”
Solomon and Goldberg are far from alone in their concerns. In addition to being a remarkably accomplished journalist, Chris Hedges is a longtime left-of-center media critic and human rights advocate. His commitment to seeing a story through has earned him no shortage of respect and animosity.
“The real danger we face now is the death of reporting,” Hedges explained to this journalist in 2012. “There is very little reporting done on the Internet. And I fear that the skills of reporting are being lost. Reporters are going the way of blacksmiths. The newspapers, for a few glorious decades, had a monopoly connecting sellers with buyers.
“This monopoly has ended. Commercial interests have far more precise and sophisticated ways now to reach consumers. And this means that it will be very hard for reporters to make a living, as the thousands of reporters and editors who had lost there jobs in the last decade illustrate. The middle class living that was once possible for journalists is over.
“Journalism will continue to exist, but those who practice journalism will survive on the margins, much the way classic actors or musicians survive on the margins of society. They will become members of the working class.”