Instead of the usual focus on religion coverage, this Memo scans the over-all news-media landscape as viewed by a newshound of (embarrassingly) long experience.
The Religion Guy, who strives to be non-partisan, believes with others that America’s news media -- in terms of economics and public trust -- have reached the low point of the past half-century.
This affects the religion beat as surely as every other segment of journalism.
There’s chaos at the storied Los Angeles Times and Newsweek, with other forms of newsroom turbulence that shakes even Gannett’s DC monolith honoring journalism's role in American life.
With GetReligion readers, there’s no need to detail the economic travail and consequent death of countless dailies and magazines, with staff shrinkage for those that still struggle to survive. Can online ad revenues sustain decent coverage? Will twittery Americans read substantive copy any longer?
But forget media economics and corporate maneuvers. Worst of all is sagging esteem. Consider TV shallowness and bile, stupendous screw-ups forced by 24/7 competition, and the eclipse of objectivity -- or even minimal fairness -- amid the glut of opinion. There’s also simple bad taste, the StormyDanielsization of daily news budgets.
In September, 2016, the Gallup Poll found Americans’ trust in the media to report “fully, accurately, and fairly” was the worst since it first asked this question in 1972. Only 32 percent had a “great deal” or “fair” amount of trust, down 8 percent in just a year. A mere 26 percent of those under age 50 felt trust, capping a decade of decline. One year later, 37 percent of respondents thought the media “get the facts straight” but with a worrisome partisan breakdown: 62 percent of Democrats versus only 37 percent of Independents, and a pathetic 14 percent of Republicans.
However, it was a good sign that less than one-fifth of those of whatever partisan identity or educational level had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Internet news.
There was much to mourn before Donald J. Trump came down that golden escalator.