Journalists are truth-tellers. But I think most of us have been lying to ourselves. Our profession is crumbling and we blame the Web for killing our business model. Yet it’s not the business model that changed on us. It’s the culture.
Mainstream media were doing fine when information was hard to get and even harder to distribute. The public expected journalists to report the important stories, pull together information from sports scores to stock market results, and then deliver it all to our doorsteps, radios and TVs. People trusted journalists and, on our side, we delivered news that was relevant—it helped people connect with neighbors, be active citizens, and lead richer lives.
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Advertisers, of course, footed the bill for newsgathering. They wanted exposure and paid because people, lots of people, were reading our newspapers or listening to and watching our news programs.
But things started to change well before the Web became popular. Over the past few decades, news conglomerates took over local papers and stations. Then they cut on-the-ground reporters, included more syndicated content from news services, and focused local coverage on storms, fires, crashes and crime to pad profit margins. The news became less local and less relevant, and reporters became less connected to their communities. Surveys show a steep drop in public trust in journalism occurring during the past 25 years.
Read More: By Michael Skoler, Nieman Reports
Photo Credit: judsond (Creative Commons)