George Will writes about the decline of newspaper and network news consumption that results in large part, he says, from the rejection by media-savvy youth of traditional journalism.
The key question is why media-savvy youth have rejected traditional journalism. One explanation is simply that this audience likes to spend time online. However, to the extent that this is the problem, the MSM can react (and is reacting) by putting its product online. The trick is to figure out how to make money this way.
But, as Will suggests, the MSM is not losing out primarily due to the nature of the media in which it currently operates. It is losing out because of its combination of bias and cluelessness. The latter trait is present for all to see in the quotation Will references from a CBS official speaking to the Weekly Standard’s Terry Eastland: “Time is on our side in that as you get older, you tend to get more interested in the world around you.” In other words, this MSM representative assumes that young people are tuning out the MSM because they are tuning out world and political events (he or she also overlooks the fact that, while the young people who now ignore the MSM surely will age, the old people who now consume the MSM surely will die and be replaced by new young people).
But is there any evidence (other than the decline of “big media”) that the media-savvy youth of today is uninterested in the world? My daughters and their friends are as well or better informed than the kids I grew up with — they just get their information from different kinds of sources.
Will concludes that the future of big media is uncertain. It seems certain, though, that it will never recapture either its position as the arbiter of the way things are or its full market share. However, I think there’s a niche for big media which can be found where it has always purported to reside — as a fair and honest broker. What strikes me as most uncertain is whether big media has the will to reside there.
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