There was only a short period of time (30 years maybe? 1930-1960) when broadcast journalism could have been even remotely considered "objective". Before that newspapers always leaned to one side or the other, stemming in great part from their evolution from pamphlet printers.
There's really no effective way for anyone to challenge the current journalism stranglehold. Just like there's no way for consumers to fight oil company prices. Fox News has sprung up to bring a different perspective, which is needed, even if you think all they do is sprout lies. The internet is a viable method of disputing facts and dispersing information, but overall the power of the blog is weak compared to the power of the network.
I'd love to think that once true internet and television integration occurs (yes I know the shift by young people has firmly taken root, I'm one of them) - meaning when web content is easily browsable on all televisions - we'll have the YouTube political commentator types who we can turn to for news.
Tell you what, let's follow this hypo for a minute. Assume 70% of Americans have a television set with a listing for different sources of internet blogs and news broadcast in video. It can be browsed using your remote control and your provider (DirectTV or Cable Company) will throw it up on a screen for you to choose from.
A several questions come to mind:
- Will providers have a virtually UNLIMITED list for you to pick from (like say anyone who posts on YouTube) or will they simply provide an expanded, but limited list (maybe a hundred sources that they choose by their own criteria)
- How will YOU personally decide which one to watch?
- Will you take the time to search their credentials on the net? Will they be part of a bio page you can browse on screen?
- How many people will just lock into all (liberal/conservative) stations and believe what they hear?
- To what extent will this further and further solidify the extreme positions of either side? Will it mean that political groups will stop trying to be bi-partisan?
- Will this lead to more passionate political involvement or more people just giving up because "their side" wont be heard?
See folks, this is why you need to go talk to old people. I mean REALLY old people. Get up from your computer....go find the oldest person you can ...and ask them about what they think the world was like in the past.
An 80 year old could tell you about what the birth of radio was like. A 70 year old could tell you about what television started out doing. Yes, they'll have their own political views and they won't always be 100% right, but I'm betting they wont bend the truth as much as the trusty, dusty internet search will.
There's no way for me to know if the news I'm getting now is "fair and balanced". When ABC shows me people protesting at town halls, how can figure out whether the people in the video are being taken in context or out of context? How do I know if these are isolated incidents or if there's wide-spread panic across the country like Fox News says.
We're at a complete breakdown of our sources of information gathering. I'm hoping it brings us back to real, human contact.
We're all operating on this fallacy of "the good old days of objective journalism" - that were a blip and possibly never to return.