Monday morning, I woke up to an NPR summary of the latest Pew “State of the Media Study.” Even in my half-awake state, what I heard seemed like the musings of leftists trying to explain why their favorite program is failing to accomplish anything worthwhile. So when I got a chance, I decided to look into the matter further, and then I came across this article at the Huffington Post. The headline there tells us all we need to know about the insularity of the folks who worked on the Pew media study. It reads, “Pew State Of The Media Study: Journalism Cutbacks Are Driving Consumers Away.”
Let’s examine the opening paragraphs of the Huffington Post article in more detail. The story begins:
Years of newsroom cutbacks have had a demonstrable impact on the quality of digital, newspaper and television news and in how consumers view that work, a study released Monday found.
Nearly one-third of consumers surveyed by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism said they have abandoned a news outlet because it no longer gave them what they had counted on, either with fewer or less complete stories.
Pew’s annual State of the News Media report delivered what has become a common litany of grim business statistics. Television news viewership is down. Newsroom employment at newspapers is down 30 percent since a peak in 2000 and has gone below 40,000 people for the first time since 1978. Newsweek shut its print edition and Time magazine is cutting staff.
“These cutbacks are real,” said Amy Mitchell, the project’s acting director. “And based on the data that we’ve collected, they are having an effect.”
Government coverage on local television news has been cut in half since 2005, the study said. Sports, weather and traffic now account for 40 percent of the content on these broadcasts; yet that’s just the sort of information readily available elsewhere. That’s a recipe for future erosion, Mitchell said.
So if we believe Pew, the media are failing primarily because of “newsroom cutbacks,” and that has put the media into a vicious cycle of shortages and decline. Evidently, none of the folks at Pew thought to ask what caused the “newsroom cutbacks” in the first place.
Here’s a hint: it wasn’t simply the economy. Decades of biased coverage, selective reporting, agenda-driven campaigns, and the refusal to hold corrupt and cynical politicians accountable have taken their toll. People aren’t buying what the press is trying to sell. When was the last time anyone in the lamestream press asked an entrenched politician questions like these?
Lest you think I’m being too harsh on the insularity of the folks who worked on the Pew study, consider these additional facts. It came as news to them that MSNBC is “almost entirely dominated by opinion.” One wonders where they have been hiding during the last eight years.
But wait, it gets better. Pew was also surprised to learn that “It’s getting harder to distinguish CNN from its more ideological cable news rivals,” according to another report about the study. Newsflash to Pew: CNN has been highly ideological for at least a decade now. And while the folks at Pew were busy putting the finishing touches on the study, Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow went off the rails in their sympathy for the high school football players convicted of rape in an Ohio courtroom.
Yet somehow, the folks at Pew somehow still want us to believe that viewers and readers are tuning out the media because cutbacks are placing limits on the ability of the press to cover stories adequately.