Salena Zito

Most of his worries come from what he perceives as a decline in independent outlets with serious reporters, the ultra-partisanship of cable news and the Internet, and an excessive focus on the mundane and the insignificant.

Media tends to ignore more complicated stories that will affect our futures. Perhaps “old media” needs a return to its famed “muckraker era” in order to flourish, if not to survive.

Unfortunately, increasing competition from non-traditional outlets and the loss of independent outlets – along with the perception that people are more interested in Elizabeth Edwards' marriage than in health care, global warming or North Korea’s nuclear ambitions – control what we see or read.

And that minimizes any deep intellectual curiosity by the press as to why the president does what he does, when he does it.

A president usually can’t hide or stage the news forever because the public starts to wonder why he isn’t answering difficult questions or is always posing as an action-hero, says Villanova’s Brown.

“The Obama administration is fostering an illusion that (it is) accessible to the public and that his presidency is more transparent than any in history,” she warns.

He is likely to get away with that until reporters start making a big deal out of their inability to get to him and his skirting of tough questions.

So far, Obama has found a way to do both things – control the message and appear accessible – which, in effect, has helped to put the Washington media out of business.

“If I were a journalist,” Brown says, “I'd fight back with the one thing I have: lots of ink on this story.”


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.
 

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