The resignation of two top editors at the New York Times last week was the journalistic equivalent of bringing down a president of the United States. But the initial reaction from inside the journalism establishment does not augur well for any lessons that it should learn from this affair.
The New York Times will investigate, study and examine what happened, but it is unlikely the newspaper will reach the right conclusions. The problem for The Times and for much of "mainstream journalism" is that large numbers of people no longer trust what they read (or see on the broadcast networks). Growing numbers think the big media have an agenda that has replaced reporting. It doesn't matter what big media think about themselves, any more than it matters what a gas station manager thinks about his gas prices and the condition of his restrooms if the customers are fleeing to a competitor because they think he charges too much and his restrooms are dirty.
At the New York Times and the broadcast networks, management and reporters are suffering from "acute denial syndrome" (ADS). The problem isn't them, they say. They blame the "victim." Readers and viewers are supposed to shut up and swallow what is offered without complaining, because the public cannot possibly understand what it means to be a privileged, highly paid journalist.
That the media don't get it and, in fact, can't get it because of ADS, was evident in a "story" by NBC's Jim Avila following the resignations at the New York Times. Avila blamed conservatives and the Fox News Channel (where I appear) for the declining trust in the media. The public would trust the media more, he suggested, if conservatives would cease their criticism.
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