Jim Terry
September 14, 2016
The irrelevant news media--Part II
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By Jim Terry

Liberal bias and false reporting of news has had a negative effect on America's news industry. The number of newspapers in America has declined; newspapers have lost value; newspapers have been forced to lay off employees. According to the website, Statista, the number of American daily newspapers declined from 1,730 in 1981 to 1,382 in 2011.

Three high visibility newspapers, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe have seen declining revenues over the past few years.

A USA Today article dated August 6, 2013 reported the sale of The Washington Post for $250 million. The article said of the Post, "The loss of print advertising and paying customers, as at newspaper after newspaper across the country, has been devastating." The report cited a 44% decline in operating revenues the six years prior to the sale as a motivation for the sale.

According to a report in August 2013 by Matthew Sheffield of Newsbusters.org, The New York Times dumped The Boston Globe which it had bought in 1993 for $1.1 billion. The selling price: $70 million, about a 95% loss, and the Times retained $110 million of the Globe's pension debts.

More bad news for the news industry was the release of a survey in July 2015 by the American Society of News Editors which shows a 10.4% drop in newspaper employment from the prior year, bringing the newspaper industry employment to the lowest level since 1978.

In September 2015, James Warren reported at Poynter.com, The Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing property, will cut approximately 80 employees, and other Tribune Publishing newspapers may face staff cuts.

Biased reporting in the news industry has also brought bad news for liberals in the electronic news industry. Fox News, long perceived as a conservative and balanced news outlet, has dominated the cable news networks for several years. Other cable news outlets are perceived to be liberally biased in their reporting. While fairness, balance and a conservative viewpoint in news reporting by Fox is arguable, the choice of Fox by viewers who perceive those traits in Fox's reporting of the news reflected in ratings is not arguable. Deadline.com reported in June 2015 that Fox News had extended its number one rating among cable news networks to 161 straight months. Through 2016, Fox still dominates cable news.

Pew Research Center's 'State of the News Media,' published June 15, 2016, reveals that in 2008, the combined audience for Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC prime-time cable news was 4.26 million. Those numbers fell to 2.48 million by 2014 and in 2015 had the first increase in numbers of viewers in three years to three million.

In 2008, the major network evening news shows drew 22.9 million viewers. That number declined to 21.6 by 2010 and had come back up to 22.2 million as of the June 1, 2015 ratings. The number of network news viewers as of an August 8, 2016 report was about 24.5 million.

Observer.com ran a piece September 1, 2016 by Ken Kerson highlighting how the media is inserting itself in the 2016 presidential election. He says:
    The Observer and others have detailed the ways in which traditional media companies and even tech companies have colluded to maximize negative coverage of Trump and minimize negative coverage of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
And in August, Jim Rutenberg, media columnist for The New York Times, wrote to his fellow journalists, "If you view a Trump presidency as something that's potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you've ever been to being oppositional."

He then followed up with this advice to those journalists who believed the above:
    ...throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you've never approached anything in your career.
Unfortunately, the view of the public toward journalism is that the news people threw out the textbook on journalism long ago.

The decline of the newspaper business has been explained, by the newspaper business, as a result of the internet, the growth of electronic media, and changes in technology. There is no doubt that those factors have played a part. However, the examples cited above represent the rot within the entire news industry-print and electronic-which has led to another, more important, factor: public mistrust of the media. This public mistrust, I believe, has fueled the general decline in the news media.

In February and March 2016, the American Press Institute funded a nationwide poll on trust and reliability in the news. Only six percent of the respondents had a great deal of confidence in the press; 52% had only some confidence; and 41% had hardly any confidence in the press. This poll affirms what polls have been revealing over the past few years.

A 2003 article in USA Today, by Peter Johnson, affirms the steady decline in the public confidence of the news media. He says that trust in the media fell from 54% in 1989 to 32% in December 2000.

A Gallup poll conducted in September 2010 revealed that 57% of Americans "...have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly." Another Gallup poll from September 2012 found that 60% of Americans had "...little or no faith in the media."

Gallup, in a 2014 survey to measure confidence in the news media, found that 19% of respondents had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in internet news compared to 18% of respondents who had the same amounts of confidence in television news.

Another recent phenomenon in the news industry which makes it irrelevant is the reporting, not of news, but of the opinions of people toward the news. Reporting the 'tweets' from people on news stories now has a permanent place in the electronic newsroom. What someone, whether prominent or ordinary, communicates in a five second eight word electronic message about a breaking news story is not news-it is commentary at best and poor grammar most of the time.

America's news media, through its bias and dishonesty, has made itself irrelevant as a reporter of the news. It may have become a propaganda machine, but it is not a news gathering and reporting machine and doesn't deserve the confidence of the public.

Someone once said, "If one has not read the newspapers for some months and then reads them all together, one sees, as one never saw before, how much time is wasted with this kind of literature."

That someone was Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. He died in 1832.

© Jim Terry

 

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Jim Terry

Jim Terry has worked in Republican grassroots politics for 40 years. Terry was an administrative assistant to a Republican elected official in Dallas for twenty years. In 1996, he ran for and was elected to Justice Court 2 in Dallas County where he served eight years. Contact Jim at tr4guy62@yahoo.com

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