Over the past several years, a considerable number of expert groups, commissions, panels and individuals have voiced elements of what, writ large, is a fairly coherent and consistent critique of the current practice of political journalism at our major news outlets.
It’s too shallow, too attracted to spectacle and too easily distracted. It is forgetful and indifferent to expertise. It is too quick to normalize abnormal behavior. It reflects elitist conventional wisdom and is out of touch with the rest of America. It spreads, rather than refutes, disinformation. It is tongue-tied on racial and gender issues. It is obsessed with conflict and finding two sides; with the horse-race and with gotchas. It values access to the powerful over giving voice to the voiceless. It prizes optics over substance; and cynicism over hope.
In the Trump era, addressing these shortcomings has obviously become more necessary than ever: the media is being played, stymied and demonized all at once. With the next presidential election bearing down on us, addressing those shortcomings — and trying our damndest to fix them — has become urgent.
So I’ve launched Press Watch, what I hope will be a collaborative project to monitor political reporting and encourage more responsible, informed and informative campaign and government coverage before the 2020 election.
Please join me there. Read more about the site. Consider making a donation. If you know philanthropically-inclined people or groups, please put in a good word. And please, as always, let me know what you think.