• Ad revenue for network and local television is also slowly slip-sliding away — much of it to cable, whose top three “news” channels are enjoying lusty profits and viewership gains. As Michael Gerson points out, cable “news” outlets “have forsaken objectivity entirely and produce little actual news, since makeup for [talk-show] guests is cheaper than reporting.” He also reiterates something that I’ve pounded here many times: As people’s lives get more frantic and the media pie fragments into thousands of narrow slices, news consumers turn to stations, networks, papers, and Web sites that comport with their political preferences.Some folks are “customizing” Web pages, making sure that everything that hits their eyeballs matches their favorite subjects and political preferences.As Louis Menand wrote in the November 2 New Yorker magazine’s “Talk of the Town,” “The market for news is narrowing down to those who need an ideological fix” in a media spectrum in which “bias is increasingly taken for granted.” I, on the other hand, have always delighted in picking up the paper and reading the unexpected — carefully vetted and artfully written stories about all sorts of things I didn’t even know were happening — rather than searching out, over and over again, viewpoints that I already share. But when they tried to charge readers for this content, few people paid.
Or a “morning zoo” co-host, yukking it up about the First Lady’s slacks or some burglar stuck in a chimney.
Instead, I want to bring you up to date on the sickly state of American journalism, which appears to be in irreversible decline. ” In his mournful dirge for the “Fourth Estate,” Gerson likens Washington’s journalism museum, the Newseum, to a mausoleum housing “the artifacts of a declining industry.” They include the final front pages of newspapers around the country that gave up trying to compete with showbiz mags and blogs; “citizen journalists’” raw footage from disasters and crime scenes; online videos of cute kittens and stumble-down drunks; unreal reality-TV shows; spittle-spewing talk hosts who think President Obama is a native of Kenya; and hosts of the opposite political persuasion who mock the hairspray and spray-on tans of certain Republican congressional leaders.