Why the US media is so “incompetent” these days

Why the US media is so “incompetent” these days, by the Z Blog.

Way back in the before times, when you got news and opinion from TV, newspapers and magazines, you just accepted the authority of the source. If you were a liberal, you were required to swear oaths about the objectivity and integrity of the news media. If you were a normal person you understood that all of it was biased. Alternative sources of information, however, were thin on the ground. …

The thing is though, the columnists were always people who had spent a long apprenticeship in the news business. They started out as local reporters for local papers and then advanced onto bigger stories at bigger outlets. The typical newspaper columnist was a middle-aged man who had been a reporter for a couple of decades. Every city paper had a columnist who used to cover city hall, until he got bumped up to writing polemics about the people in city hall. That was his expertise.

Even the TV people had been in the business for a long time. Eleanor Clift would argue with Pat Buchanan about politics. Both had served as reporters covering campaigns, until they got columns. Their TV persona was as a columnist with expertise covering politics as a reporter for decades. They would salt their opinions with references to events they covered. That was their basis of authority. Their expertise was from long experience reporting on politics at all levels. They were professional reporters.

Whatever one wants to say for the old model of the journalism career, there was a winnowing process to filter out the extremely stupid and dishonest. The Der Spiegel scandal is mostly due to hiring a charismatic greenhorn into a prominent position, without having put him through an apprenticeship. Odds are, the people who hired him had never been local reporters or had to edit copy for a small publication. Like Claas Relotius, they popped out of good schools and the right families into elite media. …

The puzzle is how the mass media has evolved into a weird playground for the stupid children of rich people. …

What seems to be happening is the modern mass media selects for the ability to ingratiate oneself with the powerful. Ezra Klein has a reputation for being a world-class rumpswab, but also a ruthless courtier, who would stab his mother in the neck to gain favor with the boss. That’s how he rose so quickly in the Washington media ranks and why he is now installed in a seven figure job at a media outlet with no customers.

The Australian media is dutifully following the same trends. Hired from the PC class only, the people saying the “right” things go into the prominent positions even if they have little experience. Unprecedented levels of bias follow, mainly just arguments and attitude dressed up as news, and lying by omission.