Journalism is on a respirator -- and the prognosis isn't good.
Listen, there is more media today than ever in our history -- there's probably two or three times as much media now as a year ago, and probably 10 times as much as three years ago. We are swimming in it. But journalism? Actual, fact-based, multiple-sourced, authority-questioning journalism? It's on the endangered species list.
Mass media is corporate owned, thus the narrative is extremely narrow. With the exception of sudden horrific events, which seem to be coming on a continual basis these days, it's pretty much scripted and numbers driven, especially on 24/7 cable. Which is why The Donald is still with us today, threatening us all with the rise of New American Fascism -- he's ratings gold.
On the flip side, now anyone with a smartphone is a journalist waiting to happen. The ability to film anyone doing anything (and, all too often, a cop shooting some unarmed teenager) gives us all direct access to events as they actually happened, not a rehashed second or third hand account. This is a good thing.
What isn't happening is the deep reporting around that story. Why do these things keep happening? What are the forces in society that prevents us from changing this? Who are the people who decided that a black man whose spine was separated in the back of a police van was somehow not murdered by anyone? Who is the judge? What is his background? Who are his friends? Who appointed him? What political pressure was exerted? Who is really calling the shots there, and who is trying to change this?
Obviously there are exceptions. Some publications (like the NY Times and Washington Post and The New Yorker) still dig deeper. But mostly what we get are the scores -- Police 4, Citizens 0. That's just one example top of mind at the moment; there are countless others.
The reason we don't get answers to these things? Because almost nobody is willing to pay for reporters to dig into it. The numbers don't play out. People have already moved on to the next horror. There's no ROI; it's bad for the bottom line.
Watch the movie Spotlight. It wasn't that long ago that major city newspapers had the resources to devote a team of four reporters to a single story for months on end. Not because the story would help them snag big advertisers or increase their circulation base or just sell papers (though I'm sure it did the latter); they did it because it was a story that had to be told. It was important. It was part of the paper's mission. This is the reason why newspapers were created.
That kind of journalism hasn't disappeared entirely. But it's more and more rare, and one day it very well might. And no one will be left to report that story.