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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

The Media We Have and The News We Need

Two pictures to explain my thoughts on the media. My central contention is that Fox News is not the problem. The New York Times is the problem. Why?

Because we have lost the idea that the point of a for profit news organization is to sell newspapers. Mid-Century monopolies made that a guaranteed reality. The 15 white guys that owned all 15 news outlets needed to justify their existence. So they came up with the professional objective media as the agent of the First Amendment and bulwark of democracy. You can't really blame them for the result being a self-serving pile of shit.

Now, there are no monopolies but news organizations are still playing the old game where it is unethical for journalists to try to sell people newspapers. That is the publisher's job, "the business side" and business must be carefully separated from editorial. But the monopoly is gone. A bunch of people rejected the ethics of journalism and started selling newspapers to the Tea Party base of the Republican Party. There is no equal and opposite force on the other side because liberals still subscribe to the old rules.

The result:

Conservative media organizations cannot attract good responsible journalists because trying to sell newspapers to the Tea Party (or to anyone) is by definition unethical.

Liberal media organizations follow the rules of good responsible journalism but ignore their audience: people like me who desperately want news with a point of view.

In pictures:

The Media We Have

The Media We Have

If The New York Times would move over just a little bit, they could bring Fox into the fold of respectable journalism and have a salutary and simplifying effect on the whole system.

The News We Need

The News We Need

Darwinian Constitutional Analysis

What this guy at Brookings gets wrong about the press