Every so often the topic of legacy media comes up here at Uncommon Descent. Recently, for example, we were looking at the reduced hold of the legacy media narrative on the Darwin question. This reduced hold became evident recently in the US Republican prez nomination race .
While legacy media editorials, columnists, and op-eds inveigh continually against Darwin doubt, a number of contenders with a constituency- most recently Ron Paul – have said bluntly that they don’t believe in Darwin – and they are confident that their opinion will not hurt their chances in the slightest. There you have it, a perfect snapshot of the situation legacy media find themselves in.
The global warming debate is analogous. Legacy media demand attention to that and innumerable other panics, but the public is increasingly turning a deaf ear. For one thing, there have been so many panics. Anyone remember Carl Sagan’s nuclear winter? Global warming turned out to be much more lucrative for the panic business because sources of heat are everywhere, whereas nuclear war is rare.
The principal audience of legacy mainstream media today is expanded government and its supporters. The enormous growth of government in recent decades has made that a large enough audience to sustain current media operations at a minimum level of profitability, or just below that. From the “below that” files, Britain’s Guardian offered journalist Julie Burchill a sofa instead of a raise. The old boardroom sofa perhaps? Businesses that can pay their help donate the sofa to charity.
If we understand the gulf between uniform legacy media views and popular views in this light, consider what must follow: As government and legacy media become more interdependent, we will see undisguised collaboration, as in Quebec today, where it is proposed that “approved” journalists be granted more access. In a country, no less, where in theory all citizens have the right of access equally. If this trend catches on, government subsidy for legacy media will not be far behind. And approved journalists will not be paid in sofas.
One increasingly common function of legacy media has become railing at the public for its dissent from or disbelief in government views and policies. Governments are not allowed to rail, of course, but the New York Times can and does. Then all the others start up, akin to a pack bark. Meanwhile, the public gets more and more of its actual news from unapproved sources. For example:
Legacy print medium: “Primary school teachers’ union votes overwhelmingly to teach global warming peril across curriculum” (Approving editorial scheduled for same day)
Science news blogger: “New findings [linked] are not confirming global warming predictions” (Enraged government-funded trolls blast blogger for “lying”)
Some media condescend to cover what the non-government public knows must be happening – and they are disproportionately media that oppose government expansion. Just as the political candidates most opposed to government expansion are the most likely to doubt the government-funded Darwin industry.
None of this should be surprising, if we keep in mind that the Internet (and cell phones, multi channels, cheap electronic gadgets, etc.) eliminated – over decades -the legacy media’s gatekeeper function for news as such. Anyone can report now, and if their news is of interest, they will enjoy a large and growing audience. Gradually, over the same period, the legacy media morphed into its present state. A minor irony is that legacy media tend to rail against the blogosphere for inaccuracy, but bloopers – and susceptibility to hoaxes – have become increasingly common in their own august newsrooms. But they matter less because anyone is free to use alternative sources to find out the facts.
Hat tip: Five Feet of Fury, re sofa as soft currency
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