July 14, 2019


Part of the problem is that many of us are still clinging to a mindset in which the ‘journalist’ is hailed as an ideal without prejudice or bias. I still feel somewhat beholden to maintaining a degree of this; though I’m not a full-time journalist and my penchant for political snark is readily available on Twitter, because I write regularly for this outlet and it touches upon the realm of politics, I have chosen to not make any donations to political candidates in this election cycle. (My bank account thanks me.) But recently my friend Drew Curtis, founder of humorous news aggregator Fark.com (which famously popularized the ‘Florida man’ headline), reminded me that our conception of allegedly unbiased news is a myopic one. American newspapers of yore weren’t published in the name of a free press; they were propaganda arms of major political parties. The idea of an unbiased, agenda-free press is one with few roots deeper than the mass media of the mid-20th century.

It was a necessary fiction during the days of the first radio, and later TV networks of the first half of the 20th century, and into the 1970s, when most American cities were served by three TV networks and at most, two newspapers, each getting the bulk of their content from a couple of wire services. But that world hasn’t existed for decades, far less so today.

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