Opinion

A Look Back at the Demise of the Mainstream News Media in 2018

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Posted: Dec 31, 2018 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
A Look Back at the Demise of the Mainstream News Media in 2018

One prevalent theme of 2018 was the further deterioration of the mainstream news media. The meltdown began in late 2016, after President Trump won the election. The media went into full assault mode, bashing Trump and churning out fake news at a breathtaking speed. They could not handle this new type of Republican president who aggressively went about a conservative agenda and frequently attacked the press.  

But Trump fought back, taking to Twitter to speak directly to the American people. He got his message out first, before the media could report on it. The media was forced to report afterwards on his tweets, which were difficult to spin when embedded in an article word for word. 

Journalists in media were so blinded by their hatred of Trump that they could not see the constant negativity was backfiring. People dropped their subscriptions to biased newspapers and cable TV. People turned to news from bloggers, Facebook friends and conservative outlets in order to avoid the bias of traditional news sources. Instead of reading The New York Times, people visited the Drudge Report online. Instead of paying for CNN and MSNBC, people watched streaming news services like Newsmax and TheBlaze. Conservative Fox News was the most-watched channel on basic cable for the 29th consecutive month. Usually, when one party is in power, the opposition’s strength grows outside of the office, such as in the media and in tech. So it’s unusual that Fox News is doing as well as it is. 

The phrase “fake news” became wildly popular in 2017 and 2018 as Trump repeatedly caught the media reporting dishonestly. Some of the worst offenders have been the hardest hit. In November’s ratings, CNN failed to place even one show in the top 20 for cable news shows. The New York Times suffered a 23 percent decrease in net income during the third quarter this year as compared to last year. The paper began offering voluntary buyouts in early October, in order to downsize employees.

Trust in the mainstream media continues to erode. A Gallup poll from September found that 69 percent of U.S. adults say their trust in the news media has decreased in the past decade. Only 17 percent overall “trust most news organizations,” and 67 percent overall say they “trust only some news organizations.” A substantial 45 percent referred to things like inaccuracy, bias, “fake news,” and “alternative facts” as the reason why they don’t trust the media. 

Yet with all this dismal news, the mainstream media isn’t letting up on its attacks on Trump. Biased journalists would rather see their jobs disappear than stop the Trump bashing. Stories about journalists becoming delivery drivers for Amazon and turning to other odd careers are popping up.

However, the demise of the mainstream media is being slowed by the big tech giants. Google and Facebook are censoring news sources on the right. Google recently banned Western Journal and The Gateway Pundit from Google News. This will sharply curtail much of their traffic. At the same time, Google prioritizes left-leaning news sites in its search results. Facebook changed an algorithm in January of this year which resulted in greatly reducing the traffic to conservative pages. Facebook next banned some of the most popular conservative pages this year, including Right Wing News. 

But while the big tech giants may have stemmed the tide a bit, they are running up against a tidal wave. While lefty journalists depend solely on their writing jobs to make a living, conservatives are much more business minded. They can work a full time job in business while contributing articles on the side to a news publication. As the layoffs of journalists continue, part-time conservative journalists are stepping in to fill the void. 

For example, in Arizona, the local newspapers are declining and slowly going out of business. They are being replaced by the Arizona Daily Independent, a conservative online paper with a business model that includes unpaid, part-time contributors. ADI now covers a lot of stories that the mainstream local newspapers don’t.

Media has become a very competitive area, due to the rise of the internet allowing anyone to become a blogger with their own platform. It’s hard to compete against a self-funded conservative journalist who isn’t affected by layoffs. The mainstream media doesn’t appear to be decreasing its hatred of Trump. At this rate, look to see even more of a decline in 2019 — along with the increasing rise of conservative news.