An informed citizenry is essential to a well-functioning democracy. We all assume that the “fourth estate” is what engenders citizens’ understanding of our national situation. In the last three decades, unfortunately, the quality of news has degenerated, raising questions about what the news can realistically be expected to accomplish.
The causes are technological (cable, internet, social media) as well as economic (audience fragmentation, advertising no longer can support costs of journalism) and sociological (the nationalization of politics, the changing style of journalism). The effect, according to a Carnegie Corporation report, is that “the quality of journalism is losing ground in the drive for profit, diminished objectivity, and the spread of the ‘entertainment virus.’”