Is the media no longer "The 4th Estate"?

In the past the media has often been referred to as "the 4th Estate" in recognition of it’s power relative to the other three parts of government. Is this still true in this age of super diffused media sourcing where the cost to make and distribute a comment or opinion is almost zero?

Trump has little If any respect for the media/press and they have complained bitterly (and so far ineffectively) about the loss of what they see as the loss of some of their institutional prerogatives regarding access. And they can do nothing. Trump sets the agenda with tweets! Major sites like the Huffington Post pay their contributors almost nothing and people compete for the privilege to be there! What does this say about the relative value of a product?

Is the media as a nexus of real power an Emperor with no clothes in the internet area?

It’s tough to be on par with the other three established institutions when you are changing so drastically.

The main stream media can regain their status if they differentiate themselves from the fringier (although perhaps already more effective and powerful) types. In order to do that they need to be seen as fair and balanced by more people than do now.

Not in the USA, at least since GWB had the media cower under threat of exclusion. It’s difficult to respect any aspect of US media.

I’m not aware of particularly serious issues in other first world democracies, though the Murdoch empire certainly had too much influence in the UK until about the mid noughties.

The 4th Estate denomination is from way back in the age of print journalism, late 1700s. The nature of the journalistic enterprise during the dominance of the paper-and-ink Press is so different from that of 2016 that it would not be at all surprising if its status as 4th Estate had been vacated already at whatever point it was that broadcast/cable media decided to dedicate themselves to “infotainment” more than to journalism, and we’re just now getting the memo.

(BTW the three Estates: Nobility; Clergy; Landed/Bourgeois Freeholding Commons)

As the “4th Estate” the Press was seen as an entity that,* while not themselves holding any of the actual levers of power as the other three did*, was however the means through which individual members of the other three, and more importantly, the constituencies upon whose recognition of legitimacy depended the other three’s hold on power, would be informed of what were the issues requiring attention and what were the others up to. It was the means for the man in the street to keep an eye on those who claimed to speak for him (if a nominal member of one of the Estates) or who ruled over him (if not enfranchised) and through which those in power heard the voice of the street. You did not pick a fight with people who bought ink by the barrel because you’d end up with their readership well roused against you and even your peers would find it easier to ease you out than to fight public opinion.

Sure there was scandalmongering and agitprop pamphleteering all along, but a proper major newspaper, or an old-school news syndicate or network required some serious capital investment and people skilled at digging up the truth/dirt and communicating it effectively without getting the boss too badly sued. Therefore the major media became large and influential business enterprises. But once the 24/7 news channels and Talk Radio began to dominate, then we got ourselves a different problem with the need to fill time so you now had to put stuff up that would have normally been left in the slush pile; throw in the collapse of print newspapers and then you have a problem of job insecurity and of a loss of venues for in-depth coverage, placing the old press in a position of weakness.

Get to the Web Age and here comes a BIG problem: the online public at large wants their info to be free not just in the sense of unhindered but especially in the sense of not paying jack for it (including blocking the ads). Goodbye capital resources for real journalism, which is not a real revenue generator.

Ideally one day soon the dust will settle and there will be some consensus (probably just market-forces-driven rather than in any way deliberated upon) of what the paradigms are to be going forward about the providers of mass access to information and opinion. But we’re not there yet.

The media’s credibility seems to decline more every year. The need to fill the 24 hour cycle with fresh stories means very little real journalism is done.

Now, in 2016 we have fake news. News sites are too lazy to even verify the credentials of their news sources anymore.

The media is no longer the 4th estate anymore. Imho

Depends on the connotation. If by “4th estate” you mean the media should act as a check on power or fight for the people and so on then it’s not clear when that was ever the case. From the start the press was often strictly partisan, sometimes owned by the party itself, or clearly serving capitalist interests. This perception shifted in the early 20th century due to better standards than the yellow journalism days, but the underlying motivations remained. There were cases of more independent journals, but they didn’t have much sway compared to the major organs, except maybe for the labor press, but that died a long time ago.

If you’re referring to the power to change public opinion they’re just as powerful as ever, unless you’re an old media chauvinist who looks down your nose at the internet. The newspapers once had similarly low opinions of TV and radio, which many people still consume despite proclamations of their death.

I think the press ran itself out of the building when they decided to make the news instead of report the news.

The question here is not so much “does media have an influence”, but rather is there a concentration of media influence and power invested in specific entities that is sufficient for the powers that be to respect and/or defer to them? The modern media is “influential” but is distributed across a broad swath of point sources. If most media is now scrambling for access to the powers that be because these powers have their own free, unlimited pipeline channels to distribute information the modern media is more supplicant than the quasi-peer relationship it used to have.

They are cheerleaders for the Fifth Column …

You mean about the time a Whig was elected President?

Maybe Clothahump means the kind of investigations and exposés that the press did back in the day, like the Pentagon Papers? I don’t know.

Well, it didn’t manage to investigate the country too well as it failed to even TRY to understand Trump - this critique in the New York Post of the New York Times is a thing of some beauty:

To be fair, they did a lot of grassroots interviewing amongst themselves, finding out what the common man was probably thinking, and reaching out to listen to the ordinary billionaire-on-the-street.

–Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Norvell (June 11, 1807)

–George Orwell, “Homage to Catalonia” (1938)

–button worn during the 1992 Republican Convention by the late Ginny Carroll, of the then-Washington Post-owned Newsweek.

–Knoll’s Law of Media Accuracy (Erwin Knoll, editor, “The Progressive”)