The news media, the heartbeat of the nation, the supposed watchdog of the government, and the defender of democracy has largely become little more than an echo chamber of partisan politics, peddling an illusion of information. How is it possible, in the era of information abundance, that we’ve ended up here?
This question is one we must ask if we’re to restore any semblance of sanity to our national discourse. There’s a need to address the elephant in the room — the news media is failing our democracy.
It’s in the Constitution
Let’s take a step back and remind ourselves of what journalism should be — a pillar of democracy. The Founding Fathers thought so highly of the press that they enshrined its freedom in the First Amendment. But somewhere along the line, we’ve allowed that sanctified institution to turn into an industry of illusion, a self-serving circus where truth is a rare act, overshadowed by the sophistry of ideological performance.
For the purposes of this essay, I’ll refer mostly to news as TV or “cable” news, but there is definitely an issue across the spectrum of news delivery channels, from newspapers to online, to social media, to radio, to TV.
The Commoditization of News
First, the commoditization of news. The news media was once a sacred, non-negotiable pillar of society, tasked with the role of informing the public about essential topics: international happenings, public policy debates, and scientific breakthroughs.
Today, the news is not about information — it’s about entertainment.
The 24-hour news cycle is not really news. It's more like recycled hot takes and bad faith clambering into a clown car in a race to the bottom.
Networks seem more eager to rack up viewership numbers and generate ad revenue than to actually inform the public. The news is no longer a public service; it’s a business.
Take it from an old newspaper guy — things have not improved by offering more hours of news, mostly because there is precious little news in it.
With only a handful of notable examples to the contrary, it's all bloated “analysis” from talking heads…