These days it is both common and unpleasant to hear espoused, especially by members of the elite, that the coronacrisis is helpfully accelerating the demise — if not total destruction — of sclerotic industries. One such industry, and everyone’s favorite whipping boy, if we are being honest, is the media, particularly newspapers, which seem to have now regressed from a decade-long serious condition to one in need of critical attention.
Critics on both the left and the right point to different culprits: Outmoded business models; the disruption of “new,” online media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook; shortened attention spans; a public sick of ideology masquerading as “fact,” you name it. But all of this is beside the point. Because like your local mom and pop store, or local library, or public park, journalism done well is an important part of a healthy civil society. We simply need to have it around.
And we can go further. The philosophic concepts that prop up the historical success of everything great in America — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — only move from the theoretical realm to the practical when its disseminated, discussed and debated in the public square. The roaring pamphlet debates between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, which all took place in the pages of newspapers, brought America as we know it into existence.
Now, one may downplay this and argue, as they do, that the death (or “evolution” if you prefer repeating a well-worn lie) of news media is just one of those things in life, akin to the move from traditional taxis to Uber. Except, of course, it’s not. Because when newspapers die, at least in this environment, there is nothing to replace them.
This is lamentable for many reasons, not least of which is the loss of the employment, our ability to hold to account corrupt business and bad government, and the innumerable feel-good, feel-bad, or just plain fact-neutral reporting that, in aggregate, tells the story of our country.
But the most serious problem of all is the loss of ideological balance. We are fast approaching a time where there will be three or four main newspapers left in America. Smaller and medium-sized papers will still exist — maybe — but increasingly will depend on larger outlets for content. So, whichever way the ideological wind blows in the newsrooms of the big four, so will they blow across the land.
If to all this you remark, “good riddance, the media was saturated with progressive propaganda,” we respond: Get ready for the future. To put a finer point on it, if you don’t find much to agree with The New York Times Editorial Board or have sensed a leftward slant in Washington Post reporting that should have read objectively (take a look at how they covered Michael Flynn), imagine what will happen when these papers are the only game in town. Democracy, which relies on the tension between opposing viewpoints for its vitality, will, as the saying goes, die in darkness.
As long as humans make up the newsroom, there is no way to get rid of ideological bias in the media. And that’s fine. What’s not good, however, is an imbalance of news’ perspectives before the American people. In that way tyranny lies.
If you sense this is a serious concern, there is something you can do, though you better do it fast. Support your local conservative outlet. Especially if they are the lone representative voice in town. They can’t survive without your attention.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not remind you that, when it comes to covering national news, no one beats the men and women of The Washington Times. That goes double for our columnists. If you haven’t already, please do subscribe.
Our motto is: Reliable Reporting. The Right Opinion — we would love to see more of that across America.
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