The entire status of the news media has been disintegrating over the past decade, but this year’s Presidential election truly signals the death knell of it, and in particular, print journalism.
As a former journalist and long-time communications professional, it is tough to read story after story of major layoffs at newspapers. A recent study noted that the number of full-time journalists employed today is about half as many who were employed in 2000.
Sadly, after the election many major papers are already gearing up to lay off even more. The news “product” has declined dramatically while newspapers have continued to hike prices and slash pages in an attempt to squeeze more revenue out of a smaller customer base.
In past elections, candidates lived or died whether they received key newspaper endorsements.
However, in this election, Donald Trump acted as if he didn’t care if any newspaper endorsed him, and few did. In fact, more than 240 editorial boards endorsed Hillary Clinton. Trump was only able to garner 19 (63 didn’t like either candidate and endorsed none).
Obviously, that huge disparity really had no real impact on his campaign. In fact, he berated the news media at every turn to the delight of his audiences.
The New York Times, the standard-bearer in the past for steadfast Journalism, went above and beyond in blasting Trump. It even ran a two-page spread highlighting Trump insults. It made no difference.
The prestigious Columbia Journalism Review provided a harsh criticism of the lackluster coverage of the Trump campaign. While journalists attacked Trump personally they completely overlooked why people elected him President:
“Its inability to understand Donald Trump’s rise over the last year, ending in his victory Tuesday night, clearly stand among journalism’s great failures, certainly in a generation and probably in modern times.”
CBS columnist Will Rahn chastised his colleagues for their biased support of Clinton while mocking Trump supporters noting “This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: .”
Even worse, as more and more newspapers whittle down their staffs by dumping veteran journalists to cut costs, stories of reporters working directly with political campaigns were leaked daily. Media credibility is now the lowest in decades with only 6% of Americans saying they have confidence in the media (Link) to tell the truth.
Articles such as the one in Rolling Stone magazine titled “A Rape on Campus” that falsely accused the University of Virginia administration and male students of covering up sexual assaults was a travesty. A recent verdict against the magazine is likely just one on a series of financial hits it will take for printing a totally unverified story.
Newsweek actually shipped thousands of copies of its magazine heralding Hillary Clinton as the new president on its cover to outlets. It is reminiscent of the embarrassing “Dewey Defeats Truman” front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1948.
In a 24/7 news cycle, newspapers are left in the dust. During Hurricane Andrew, the Island Packet, the McClatchy-owned paper covering Hilton Head, SC and the surrounding areas, didn’t even deliver a paper for several days during the devastation.
These are ominous times for print media, and it is likely many more newspapers and magazines will be closing their doors in the years to come. And when the dust settles they only have themselves to blame.
The media often looked the other way as WikiLeaks revealed devastating information about the Clinton campaign. Rather than investigate the hundreds of emails many media outlets simply ignored them.
Rather than change with the times to deliver news better and faster, they decided to try and cut their way to profitability. It is a scenario doomed to failure.
This election dramatically proved newspapers today are as useful as buggy whips after the invention of the automobile.