The biggest challenge facing America’s struggling newspaper industry may not be the high cost of newsprint or lost ad revenue, but ignorance stoked by drive-by punditry.
Yes, Dittoheads, you heard it right.
Drive-by pundits, to spin off of Rush Limbaugh’s “drive-by media,” are non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias.
Unfortunately, the chorus of media bashing from certain quarters has succeeded in convincing many Americans that they don’t need newspapers. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press recently found that fewer than half of Americans — 43 percent — say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community “a lot.” Only 33 percent say they would miss the local paper if it were no longer available.
Constant criticism of the “elite media” is comical to most reporters, whose paychecks wouldn’t cover Limbaugh’s annual dry cleaning bill. The truly elite media are the people most Americans have never heard of — the daily-grind reporters who turn out for city council and school board meetings. Or the investigative teams who chase leads for months to expose abuse or corruption.