If something happens in Washington and no one reports it, does it actually happen?
By Jill C. on 12/18/2008, 4:08am PT  

Guest blogged by Jill C. of Brilliant at Breakfast

As much as we'd like to believe that more Americans are getting their news from blogs, the reality is that print media --- news magazines and newspapers; and television news broadcasts are where most people get their information. With the news publishing industry being right up there with the auto industry in terms of being on the ropes, those with the loudest voices are the ones who will control the agenda. In this age of cost-cutting, newspapers are cutting their Washington bureaus, as the New York Times reports:

The times may be news-rich, but newspapers are cash-poor, facing their direst financial straits since the Depression. Racing to cut costs as they lose revenue, most have decided that their future lies in local news, not national or international events. That has put a bull’s-eye on expensive Washington bureaus.

[snip]

Most papers, even those in big cities, have wagered their survival on local news, printing far fewer reports from Washington, Beijing or Baghdad, and relying more on news agencies for those articles. A survey of newspaper editors released in July by the Pew Research Center found that 57 percent said they published less national news than they did three years earlier, while 62 percent said they printed more community-level news.

Just what Americans need --- an excuse to be even more narrowly-focused and provincial than we are.

The problem with the decline in Washington news bureaus is that it gives even more clout to the Washington pundit corps that even as the economy continues to collapse, even as GM and Chrysler close factories and talk merger while Washington fiddles, even as the upcoming Alt-A mortgage adjustments loom ahead of us in March, even as Iraq threatens to explode again, Greece erupts in unrest, and the Bushistas continue to steal as much of the Treasury as they can on the way out the door, has decided to party like it's 1993. They smell blood in the Blagojevic waters and if there is less actual news reporting, they control the agenda. This is how we end up with Time Magazine deciding that photos from 1980 of Barack Obama with a doobie constitute news just as worthy of reporting as the fact that the American era is over. Because when the feces hit the fan, the corporations that control the media want to make sure that the mobs with pitchforks and shovels decide their problems are because Barack Obama experimented with drugs in college, not because their public faces gave a criminal Bush administration a free pass for eight years.