I was scrolling down my WordPress reader recently when I came across this YouTube video that appeared in The Conversation Room‘s blog post and it got me thinking about the state of the modern media, especially in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration last month. Of course, Trump’s election win wasn’t the beginning, not even the catalyst, but it definitely awakened the truth to many people about the modern media. Far from the days of the eccentric, mostly honest, trenchcoat-wearing journalists of old, chewing on tobacco, and waiting for that early-morning call of “Extra, extra, read all about it!” from some overeager young boy—21st century media is a shadow of its former self, excuse the cliche.
I’m not saying that journalists in the twentieth century were bastions of truth, justice and Eurocentric-American way. Of course they had their fair share of problems, including their reporting of issues we nowadays consider taboo. For those issues, at least, holding twentieth century opinions to a twenty-first century context is incredibly futile. Except for one, perhaps. Gay Talese, among others, consider Watergate the turning point for journalism to the yellow-journalism precedent we see today. Others, like Peter Judd, claim that journalism took a turn for the worse when the media stopped focusing on the news, and instead its writers and their bylines. Both agree that it changed when journalists—once considered outcasts to the privileged souls in Washington DC, Los Angeles and New York—joined the ranks of the elite. Back when they were fresh out of small-time colleges/unis or fresh into cadetships, these journalists never mixed with the elite of the aforementioned three U.S cities. However, when more people got B.A’s than entered cadetships, things started getting awry. Universities have generally leaned to the left, there’s no doubt about it. Combining journalism with universities will always create a bias towards left-leaning reporting. This isn’t just the left-leaning to blame—FOX News and Breitbart have their own biases, but those journalists generally attended right-leaning universities and learned their biases there. The fact out there is: universities are never centrist, and always lean one way. And that’s when journalism began to take a turn towards its incredibly biased reporting. After Watergate, the lone journalist started getting more attention rather than the whole. Combine university biases with attention-seeking j0urnalists and what do you get? Biased reporting, generally with opinion pieces reported as facts. This is the old media.
Why does this matter so much? Because journalists provide an important role in democratic societies. When Presidents and Prime Ministers show dictatorial and anti-free speech tendencies, journalists are supposed to be there, helping the people make their own decisions, and keeping the government of the day in check. The key word: supposed. The old media is not doing this. And that’s very dangerous for free speech. Ever since Donald Trump’s shock presidential win last year, it’s become appallingly clear. Anyone who is pro-Trump is labelled a fascist, Nazi, misogynistic troll if they disagree with what the media says about Trump—and he’s barely had a minute in power to do anything remotely National Socialist. This is what psychologists call a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. Claim something loudly enough, with enough vitriol and screaming, and it’ll likely come true. And this is the media’s doing. I don’t even like Donald Trump, but he’s brash and outlandish and talks over the extreme corruption of the media, and there’s something to admire in that, even if I agree with barely any of his policies. If you ask any person why they dislike Trump, it’ll be because of something they read in the news about Trump being Hitler-incarnate. Most of what they say isn’t backed up by facts and logic, it’s backed up with emotion. And that isn’t journalism. It’s an opinion piece masquerading around as truth. In an honest society, journalism is very important. But the old media isn’t providing that necessary importance to the people. They snuggle up to their elite friends in D.C and Hollywood, enjoying the millions they get from endorsing a friend, and never have to spend a minute around the regular person.
In the end, this is why journalism is facing its downfall. The old media—newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post, and TV like CNN and MSNBC—are dying because they refuse to support the everyman and woman. When Trump won the United States Election—or Brexit prevailed in the UK, or even Pauline Hanson’s rise here in Australia—that should’ve been a sign the elites don’t have the power they claim to have. The new media—blog posts, YouTube and smaller news sites—are taking over, and the mainstream media is freaking out. Take, for example, the media’s response to an alleged joke by #1 YouTuber PewDiePie. Whether what he said was a joke or something more sinister, the old media completely jumped on him, attempting to destroy his reputation, simply because he is part of the media that is replacing them. I’ve never been a fan of PewDiePie either, but what I see from the new media is a dying cry. Some journalists who have been reporting on these issues claim to never go to the source material, just the New York Times reporting on it! It’s been the same with prior events such as GamerGate and the Milo Yiannopoulos “scandals”. Most of these events, put simply, are manufactured bullshit to slow the process of a dying medium. The point is: newspapers and TV journalism are dying, and they are not happy about it. I mean, a Bachelor of Arts majoring in journalism isn’t the cheapest to pay off! YouTube, blogs and the smaller press is taking over, and the mainstream media will do what it can to survive.
The modern media is dying, that much is certain. But where will we receive our news from? Because, as much as the news media is untrustworthy, how would you feel if you had to get your news from thetruthisoutthere.blogspot.com or thereare699genders.tumblr.com or *gasp*, David Avocado Wolfe? The problem isn’t that the news is dying—it’s how do we hold the new media to account? How do we keep things unbiased and easy for the average person to understand? Because regardless of whether Donald Trump turns out to be Literally Hitler or not, free speech is imperative to a free society.