More on the MSM
In a great pair of articles, Slate editor Jack Shafer rips into Richard Posner's take on the "crisis" in media and talks about the credibility of media consumers being at an all-time low.
I think this is brilliant stuff. He explodes some of the things that people take for granted--for example, he asserts that since only 31 percent of the [surveyed] public is aware of the Jayson Blair debacle over at the NYT, it can't be playing much of a role in the new skepticism. Another refutation:
"How could blogs have played any role in eroding public trust by 2002 when almost nobody in the mainstream had heard of them? The press loves to seize on new trends, especially techno-trends, but the word "blogs" doesn't appear in a Nexis search of all U.S. newspaper and wire stories until 2000, when it was mentioned in 22 stories. In 2001, the word appeared in 67 stories. In 2002, the concluding year of the survey cited by Posner, it appeared in 359 stories. That's too few by a factor of about 100,000 to have had an impact on the public's view of the press."
Here's his bottom line:
"The mainstream American press is better than it's ever been. If you don't believe me, visit your local library and roll through a couple of miles of microfilm of the papers you're currently familiar with. By any comparison, today's press is more accurate, ethical, reliable, independent, transparent, and trustworthy than ever. Skepticism is a healthy disposition in life. I wouldn't be a press critic if I regarded the press as hunky-dory. But mindless skepticism is mainly an excuse for ignorance."