Competition promotes media and information diversity as never before. Cable, especially Fox News Channel (for which I toil and which is regarded in the two polls, along with The Wall Street Journal, as biased toward President Bush), has started to even the playing field. Internet blogs are now major information players.
The big networks and establishment newspapers are no longer the news gatekeepers. The journalistic equivalent of the Berlin Wall has fallen, and millions are enjoying a new birth of informational freedom they had not previously known. This may not be good for the elite press, but it is great for the people, who feel empowered beyond letters to the editor.
In his Sept. 26 Washington Post column, David Broder writes, "The professional practices and code of responsibility in journalism have suffered a body blow." Broder writes that one reason for the decline in trust is big media's "offering their most prestigious and visible jobs not to people deeply imbued with the culture and values of newsrooms, but to stars imported from the political world."
He is partially right, but that's not the main reason. Journalists seem to write only for those who agree with them. Many treat with contempt the values and beliefs held by millions of Americans. They promote every lifestyle and behavior choice that differs from the experience of the overwhelming majority as something new, trendy and worthy of admiration, if not emulation. Anyone who protests is labeled a bigot.
Prior to cable and the Internet, the public had to take it, even if they didn't like it. Now they don't have to take it. Instead of lamenting the loss of readers and viewers, the big media should pay attention to a country not comprised of elites, but of real people with legitimate concerns. When they do, they'll win them back. If they don't, they won't.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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