Q&A Friday # 30: Is The MSM Really Declining?

by John Hawkins | December 30, 2005 8:40 am

Question: “I have been hearing about the decline of the MSM in various blogs for months. However the rumor of it’s impending demise seems to be greatly exaggerated in view of the furor created by the New York Times wire tap stories. They still set the agenda about what is news. How much longer do you think they will continue to drive the news topic of day and what can we do to hurry their fall from power.” — bindare

Answer: First of all, look back 20 years ago to the mid-eighties. Talk radio was a complete non-factor back then and the blogosphere and Fox didn’t exist. Back then, unless you subscribed to the WSJ, National Review, or a few other conservative publications that were out there, you got a liberal slant, all the time and that’s the way it was.

Today, conservative talk radio is thriving, Fox is around, and conservatives have a healthy presence on the web. That gives conservatives a strong voice in the media that just did not exist during the Reagan years.

That being said, the mainstream media is still far stronger than the new media. They control the Big 3 TV networks, the overwhelming majority of the newspapers out there, CNN, MSNBC, and the left also has a significant presence on the web.

So when, let’s say, the New York Times, The WAPO, CNN, etc., breaks a story, all of these other liberal news sources take the story, complete with the liberal spin it came with, and present it to the general public. So when Joe Public gets up in the morning, he sees the story on the front page of his liberal newspaper and then, when he turns on ABC, CBS, NBC etc., he gets the exact same story. That gives the left a leg up in getting their message out.

However, what now generally happens is that bloggers, talk radio hosts, conservative columnists, the RNC, etc., all get to work and find all the details helpful to conservatives that were deliberately left out of the initial report. Then, a couple of days after the story breaks, all these details come out and completely undercut the story.

The good thing about this counter response, which happens over and over and over again, is that it helps destroy the credibility of the mainstream media. The general public has seen the old media leave key details out of stories so many times that they’ve started taking everything that comes from a MSM source with a grain of salt. That’s a big part of the reason that the MSM has been losing audience share for a long time now.

However, you have to understand that they may be dying an inch at a time, but they’re not dead yet, and they won’t ever truly go away. All those of us in the new media can really do is keep plugging and revealing the info the MSM ignores or downplays out to the public, and then we’ll just have to let nature slowly, but surely, take its course.

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