Memo to The Hill: Journalism has been its own worst enemy for more than the "last few weeks." This mess took years to create.

The Hill tries to have a pulse on things, but when your model is flawed, it is a game of hit or miss.


There is an article that really doesn't get it, and that it is written by a communications professor makes it all the more distressing:

News industry suffers from self-inflicted wounds

The hypothesis is that the troubles sort of happened over the span of the last several weeks.


It was in a mess long before that. Long before 2005, when my first book on the industry came out.

There is a lot of unhelpful babble, but three parts are worth noting:

The nation yearns for a news industry that realizes its First Amendment promise to serve as a public surrogate and fuel the information needs of a democracy. 

This is the nanny theory of what journalism is supposed to be. It is not reality, and not respectful of the public. They are not "yearning" for anything from the news industry because they discovered this thing called the Internet, and were led to believe that this machine will solve all of their problems and fulfill all of their fantasies. The news media pandered to it, and now is suffering the consequences. This thinking is not aligned with modern reality, but the next part is a doozy:

It will take courageous leadership to turn the news industry around. It will take corporate leaders who have read the history of why a First Amendment was created in the first place. It will take leaders who have read the ethics codes of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. 

No, there is no courage from the "leadership" -- who is this They you think will somehow do a complete about face and shuck financial comforts for idealistic notions? How old are you?

It will not be "leaders" who make any changes. Those were the menaces who chose their egos over reality for the last few decades. These magical and benevolent patriarchal nannies do not exist.

And this appealing to authority would be funny if it weren't for the fact that the article takes old untested decrees from various organizations as some sort of divine truth. If you do not question the very notions that got you in trouble, then do not expect a miracle.

The last part brings all this puerile wishful thinking together:

Without confidence in the news media, citizens turn to social media or the guy at the bar for their information needs. Worse yet, many citizens today just tune out the news altogether. An uninformed citizenry, with no suitable surrogates in the news media, is left disabled in addressing the serious issues the nation faces.

Unfortunately, journalists have proven to be less credible than the guy at the bar, and people do not look at the guy at the bat at all -- they have an opinion, and stick with it without self-evaluation or question -- journalists never saw the changes coming, and so, became irrelevant.

That kind of damage takes decades to come to fruition, so to speak. The underlying arrogance that journalism will be relevant again misses the big picture: if an industry cannot see reality, then it cannot report on it. It lost its credibility and it is not getting it back.

And we don't need journalism. We need information, and these days, we can create new alternatives to a profession that once had it all, then gambled it all away for fleeting moments of narcissism. It had better been worth it.