Saturday, April 19, 2008
(10:24 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
The Media and the "Bottom Line"Many people, when discussing the media, seem to assume that media outlets do tabloid-style journalism because it's more profitable -- in the sense that people like it more than substantive journalism and it gets better ratings. In reality, if profit is the motive, then all you're looking for is something news-like to put in between the commercials. Therefore, "bottom line"-driven media outlets would tend toward tabloid-style journalism because it's cheaper to produce. That also accounts for the tendency of cable news to repeat things endlessly: it's a lot less expensive than going out and actually researching fresh stories.
It's not a matter of "pandering to the lowest common denominator" -- that is to say, the primary issue here is economic, not cultural. Much as I love Atrios's bitter rants, the problem isn't simply that the press corps is simply full of corrupt, lazy people (though it manifestly is) -- it's that[, as Bitch PhD pointed out in a recent conversation,] the regulatory environment in place since the 1980s has brought market pressures to bear on journalism in an incredibly destructive way. The profit motive doesn't have any real place in journalism. As long as a newspaper is basically breaking even, that's fine. Once the profit motive becomes dominant, you're going to end up doing something other than journalism, and that's exactly what's happened.
Maybe if Obama is so tired of the bullshit, he should come up with a plan to end corporate control of the media instead of just bitching about the stupid questions at the last debate.