It’s been difficult to sort out what’s happening in the United States in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as President. One of the main consequences has been a pretty dramatic reassessment of journalism as it’s been practiced. It will be interesting to see in 10 years what sort of media, news, and journalistic environment exists.
I’ve never studied journalism or media, but having been a consumer of it for several decades I feel somewhat familiar with the topic, as do we all, though it’s changed a lot since I first became aware of it in the days before cable television. Amidst all the current debate about the press, its role and status in society, and the deference it should receive from the public and the President, this essay has been useful for me.
Lee Smith starts from what has been a central claim about Russian involvement in the election and Donald Trump’s alleged Russian connection. Mr. Smith worked with the journalist who probably knew the most about Donald Trump, the late Wayne Barrett, and observes that Barrett at no time had developed significant content related to Trump and connections with Russia.
The current media concentration on stories related to alleged Russia ties became Smith’s entrance into the changes in journalism in the internet age. There was a shift from a focus on content to a focus on giving advertisers access to readers. That made reader interest paramount rather than content. Thus, content has taken a back seat to innuendo, regardless of the factual basis for it.