This op-ed from the Washington Post was brought to my attention. In it, Bryan Keefer, an editor at CJR‘s laudable Campaign Desk. In it, he pleads for a a more high-minded journalism from the more high-minded papers. His enumerated suggestions for more mature coverage–in order to appeal to us younger readers (he’s 26; I’m 27) are great, but I think that they’re unrealistic.
While I agree with what he’s asking for, which is an end to the scoop mentality, I don’t think he’s going to get it. And I hate to beat the same healthy, nay (neigh?) thriving horse, but it’s outlets like Fox News that cause serious publications like the Times and the Post to have to address these allegations. Because the newspaper with the biggest circulation in this country, USA Today, only reaches 2 million people. Does that sound like a lot? Well, it’s not. It’s pathetic how few people read newspapers. And it’s USA Today, which while it’s more credible than its McPaper reputation would have you believe, it’s still not the NYT or the WP.
Fox, on the other hand–and the other news networks–reach much bigger audiences. During the Republican Convention, Fox was reaching audiences of nearly 6 million (Reuters, via Yahoo News). And as long as anyone sees Fox as a credible news source, the so-called “news” that comes out of it is going to have to be addressed by the real papers. Maybe they haven’t been doing a great job of it, but if they went completely high-minded, they run the risk of becoming irrelevant to the vast majority of Americans–who, let me remind you, are, frankly, stupid. I believe in the general goodness of mankind, but we are not a country of independent thinkers (see Mencken’s booboisie). Bryan Keefer and I wish that we were.