US journalism dead?

Americans are losing trust in the country’s media, according to the latest polls. With newspaper sales in freefall and TV channels losing their credibility, people are increasingly looking for alternatives.

Activist and journalist Luke Rutkowski says the reason for the decline in the trust of Americans towards their media is simple – lies.

“People right now are slowly waking up. There’s something going on. There’s something that the government and the media are not telling us. There is something that these corporations are doing wrong,” he said.

The corporate-run American media is in trouble. While many are quick to point the finger at the economic crisis, some professionals say the substance of what’s been presented to the public has played the biggest role in creating this climate of mistrust.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of “The Nation” magazine, says people are now looking for other media outlets because the mainstream has repeatedly failed them.

“Journalism failed in its mission to inform the American people, or to expose the lies of the Bush administration, or to expose the corporate scandals which got us into the mess we’re in. So the younger generation and others have turned away from mainstream media and have decided to find alternatives,” she said.

The editor says real professional journalism has been the victim.

“The line between news and entertainment has been blurred, if not obliterated,” she believes. “Millions of Americans turn on their TV sets – and what kind of news do they get? It’s about celebrities; it’s not about news in their communities, or news they can use. So that too is part of the crisis of American journalism today.”

Major American newspapers are on the brink of collapse. Readership has declined and sales are down.

Amid analysts’ concerns about the extinction of the newspaper in America, TV news channels are not faring much better. According to a recent survey, trust in TV coverage has dropped to 36%.

Danny Schechter, a media critic and blogger says:

“If you come to America from anywhere in the world, you sit down, and you say, ‘What’s this? American television, it all is the same, it all looks alike, it all feels alike.’ There is very little debate or diversity of prospective.”

Schechter says the mainstream American media fails to cover news both inside and outside the country.

“Does it really cover the world? No. American networks have been closing bureaus around the world,” he says. “Does it really cover the United States very well? I would argue no. Because reporting costs money, but opinions are cheap.”

Critics name strong partisan leanings on major TV channels, non-objectivity, a lack of professional journalism, and sensationalism as the reasons for the decline in audiences and the growth in mistrust.