Are newspapers worse than they used to be?

A lot of people are pointing to the recent number of scandals in newspapers, such as Jayson Blair, as evidence that newspapers are at a low ebb. My perspective is different.

Actually, I would argue that the media does a poor job of accuracy but that this is as good as it has ever been.

To the first point, there is a phenomenom whereby everybody knows that the media is very often way off the mark in the areas that the reader is an expert in. However, everybody seems to believe what they read in every other ares that the media covers.

A recent study suggested that 56% of Americans believed that media stories were inaccurate and 62% said that the media generally tried to cover up its mistakes rather than admitting them. Effectively, the media holds others to much higher standards than it holds itself to.

At the same time, could anyone possibly suggest that the media is far more responsible and objective that in 1900? 1930? 1950? and so on. The reality is that the media is actually more responsible and less driven by sensationalism and opinion than has traditionally been the case. We may complain about the left leaning bias of the Times or the right leaning bias of Fox News but it is exactly this constant complaining that is forcing the media to stifle it’s opinion more and more.

Is it bad? Yes, but the best it has ever been.

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