Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why Americans Don't Trust the Media

Why is trust of the media slipping?  Maybe because the people in the media are not like us.

One of the big trends in the news these days is the accusations of so-called "fake news" by the far-right as well as the development of real fake news as criticized by the far-left.  Mainstream newspapers and network news outlets can't seem to fathom why the average American views them with distrust.  And the answer has to do with how the media operates and moreover where it operates.

Most major media outlets are located on either coast, usually in large and expensive cities. The people who work for these newspapers and television stations are very highly paid and either live in expensive homes in the city or have luxury homes in the suburbs.  Very few people working at any newspaper or television stations other than perhaps an unpaid college intern, really understand what it is to have to budget and live on a fixed income.

As I noted in an earlier posting, the Wall Street Journal posited that the reason why brand-name prepared foods are falling from favor is it everyone is now eating fresh kale at Whole Foods.  And no doubt among their peer group this is the case, or at least they kid each other that they are eating healthy, when in fact they're spending most of their money in restaurants.  Expensive restaurants, at that.

We see this effect also when discussing student loan debt and the cost of a higher education.  It's been noted by others in the past that whenever the cost of education is mentioned, the mainstream media will cite the cost of tuition at an Ivy League school as an indication of how expensive college has become.  In their mind it's either Harvard, Yale, or go fuck yourself.

As a result, the mainstream media has a skewed view of reality.  They literally cannot fathom how people who don't believe as they do function in society.  They derisively refer to most of America as living in the "Fly Over States" - something to be endured when you are traveling from New York to LA and back.

The other aspect of this is that the media seems mystified that they are accused of any kind of bias, even though the media has largely had either a slightly or pronounce left-wing bias since at least the 1960s.  Today, it seems that some media outlets have an even more pronounced bias than before.  The New York Times and The Washington Post seem to have given up all pretense of neutrality, perhaps in response to Rodger Ailes and Fox News.  They feel they have to "balance" the most popular news show on television by being equally partisan in the opposite direction.

The net result is it no one trusts any media outlet, as they're all selling a narrative.  And it certainly doesn't help that outlets like CNN news have to retract a story due to shoddy journalism techniques, which feeds right into the narrative of the Trump Administration.  I have a suggestion for CNN - if they really want to raise the ratings, hire Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and give them each shows on CNN.  Conservatives would flock to the channel to see their favorite bloviators, and liberals would watch twice as much in order to be outraged.  Plus, I hear both of them are looking for jobs so they probably could be gotten on the cheap.

But in all seriousness, the media needs to re-establish credibility by speaking to ordinary Americans from the point of view of ordinary Americans.  Historically, journalists were not people who went to journalism school and became mega-rich as TV stars for news outlets, earning millions if not tens of millions of dollars a year in lucrative contracts. Rather, journalists were people who, as a name implies, kept a journal. These were authors and people from all walks of life, who wrote in order to give their ordinary perspective on things.  While many became famous, such as Samuel Clemens or H.L. Mencken, most of them did not become mega-rich celebrities.

And that is the problem with the media today - we have a small, insular group of very wealthy people (or at least upper-class people) reporting from their perspective on things.   So of course, to them, everyone has the latest Apple iPhone and all the cable channels and a new luxury SUV.   Of course, to them, everyone orders food from Amazon to be delivered to their home.  After all, who has time to shop?   Everyone else in America must live like a news anchor, right?

Well, wrong.   And that's why people don't trust the news.