News and the Culture of Lying, by Paul H. Weaver
Hardly anyone speaks any more of “the press.” Instead, there is something called the “media”—an assemblage of voices and technologies gathered without regard to professional discipline, and amorphous enough to include Oprah Winfrey, George Will, and young geniuses who make videos for MTV. In a way, the media are the most democratic of institutions: anyone with a podium can join, and while free spirits are not always encouraged, the general rule is that one voice is as good as another, and success is measured only by how loudly that voice may be heard. Lost in the din is the press, or at least the press as we once knew it.
To be sure, that old press was never wholly satisfactory to begin with, but one of its virtues was that it usually knew its place. Journalists lived below the salt, and for the most part were content to remain there. There was always a Walter Lippmann, say, or an Arthur Krock or Joseph Alsop who talked to Presidents, but everyone knew they were exceptions. By and large, journalism was a modest endeavor, less interested in setting national agendas or in telling us how to behave than in retailing a few pertinent facts, along with the accompanying rumors and speculation.
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