Wake up and smell the spin

Wake up and smell the spin
: A member of the team that wrote the much-linked study on the shrinking news biz (see below), Dante Chinni, writes a lament in the Christian Science Monitor that misses the point by a mile:

So it is in 21st century America, where choice reigns even when it comes to what sort of news you are looking for. Don’t like what you’re hearing about the world on CNN? Try Fox. Is The Washington Post too conservative? Tune in Air America.

Of course, on its face, there is nothing wrong with any of this – though Fox’s “fair and balanced” masquerading is at best good for a few laughs and at worst painfully dishonest. Opinion journalism has long been considered an important part of presenting a full picture of the news….

But we’re seeing something different today. Traditional old-line outlets are being abandoned….

Where are people turning? To smaller outlets that allow for more customizable news, and often to sources that validate viewpoints more than illuminate the larger world.

Opinion journalism is becoming less a way to round out the average American’s news meal and more its main course. We’ve been living in the world of instant spin for some time, but we’re now entering the world where the line between news and spin is vanishing. And of all the disquieting trends in journalism, this may be the most troubling because it touches on this country’s ability to make decisions as a people.

Everyone has opinions, but for those opinions to be worth something, they have to be based on facts so that we can come up with an accepted version of reality. That’s how democracy works. Some of the media are entering an age where facts are based upon opinion. And reality? Well, that all depends on whom you get your news from.

He’s fighting his audience — his customers, his public, his people — instead of listening to them.

There are reasons they’re doing this. Could be that they’re bored by news. Could be that they don’t find news, as he defines it, useful to their daily life. Could be that they like hearing transparent spin (rather than attempts to hide it). Could be that they believe news and spin have always been inseperable. Could be.