Yes, folks, the media is headed to hell in a hand basket, and I’ll tell you why.
First off: “Campaign Finance Reform.” This well intentioned effort butts up against three indisputable and unchangeable facts. First, there are rich people. Second, these rich people will have opinions. Third, the fact that these people are rich and of course think that their opinions are better than everyone else’s opinion means that they will attempt to use that money to change others opinions to be in line with their own. Nothing will change this.
This will lead to the creation of “faux-media” a la the NRA’s new radio network. Since people cannot spend their money directly to purchase the usual model of a political add, they will find some alternate way to spend their money to do the same thing. See Air America (started via liberal investors), Fox News (run by conservative investors), and any other number of promising upstarts. Since these media organizations are funded by ideologues and often created expressly for the purpose of portraying a particular view, the people running these stations will feel no pressure to present a balanced and unbiased look at the news. Sure, bias may be impossible to eliminate, but The New York Times, The Economist, and Wall Street Journal are both sources that currently exist that do a pretty good job of it (at least on the news pages).
Unfortunately, people will view biased news sources as more and more acceptable. See Michael Moore’s new “documentary.” Yes, the film may have value and raise good points, but it will never be all that it could have been as a documentary because its creator set out to present a single view point rather than a balanced one which objectively and fairly approaches the evidence. Even worse, people support this as the, “evolution of the documentary.” I think that this is mainly due to the fact that most people in film and documentary are liberal. Not saying that this in of itself is a bad thing, but they are siding with Moore because of which specific side he supports. If Foxnews had produced a similar documentary, it would be decried, but supporting Moore’s film as a documentary lowers the standards. Eventually, someone from the right will slide in an equally biased film as a “documentary” and it will continue to lower standards of fairness, objectivity, and worst of all, accuracy.
Sure, unbiased news sources will continue to exist, but more and more individuals will pay attention to side-specific sources rather than neutral ones. It will become harder and harder to get a true understanding of the world because these “news” sources will present only ideological spin rather than objective analysis. The nation will become more polarized, more ideological, and the media will fail to fill its role in society as a critical observer of either side.
In short, reverse these well intentioned but failed attempts at campaign finance reform, strengthen standards and ideals of future journalists, and keep an open mind.