Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Calderone: Balanced Reporting Losing Ground to Partisan Media

Michael Calderone of POLITICO this morning looks at a possible connection between declining circulation in American newspapers and CNN's dead-last finish in ratings behind the partisan competitors of Fox and MSNBC.

Eric Alterman, a media columnist for the Nation, and a frequent critic of the MSM, thinks they are. "Non-partisan news, and news aimed at a broad audience, doesn't have the cache, and therefore the consumer base it once had,” Alterman said. “The whole notion of citizenship has been declining for decades now.”

With the proliferation of media across platforms these days, there’s less shared knowledge among people, who are increasingly heading to niche outlets for information. At the same time, there’s a large appetite for the new media world where the MSM gatekeepers no longer hold as much clout, and “he said, she said” journalism gives way to strong point-of-view. Just last night, NYU hosted a debate among prominent journalists on the subject: “Good Riddance to Mainstream Media.”

And in today’s cable news universe, Alterman said, “politics without a slant, without a point-of-view, is interesting to very few people.”

That’s probably one thing that the Nation writer and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly agree on.

O’Reilly, host of the top-rated cable news show, told an audience last week that networks need to give viewers “a product that is entertaining and informative.” As for his 8 p.m. rival on CNN, O’Reilly said: “Nobody watches Campbell Brown. You have to evolve if you want to survive in the commercial world. If you are going to do a straight newscast in primetime, you are going to lose.”

Brown is not only losing to O’Reilly and a partisan on the left, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, but also to Nancy Grace, who hosts a more tabloidy show at the same time on sister-network, HLN.

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