The Fourth Estate — journalism — is under threat. Not only by politicians but by the sociopolitical media bubble that has formed around the publishing and media industry. Specifically, it is America’s media bubble that is demonstrating the dangers to other journalists worldwide; the economics of media relegating and segregating journalists into their own worlds from which they report.
And it isn’t solely the journalist’s fault – they’re a product of the digital age, the booming internet online publishing houses that only employ the most talented writers who have a level of expertise difficult to compete with. It moves the writers away from the more traditionally owned print news located in a town with a population of 80,000 – that is less likely to form specific bias. And with that move, often times, the successful journalist will base themselves in New York or Los Angeles – the hub of the action.
It’s a deeply ingrained industry trend. Since the internet media boom, the newspaper industry has suffered a massive blow to advertising revenues. As newspapers slash their staffing numbers to offset their profit loss, internet publishers snatch up the writers.
BLS data published by Politico in their The Media Bubble is Worse than You Think article sheds light on the overwhelming evidence that comes in the form of employment numbers. According to BLS data “internet publishing and broadcasting” jobs have grown from 77,900 jobs in 2008 to a current 206,700 jobs. Meanwhile, the traditional newspapers went from employing 455,000 workers in the 1990s to a staggering decrease of 173,900 in January 2017.
What should have resulted in a spread of journalists working from all locations, has in fact done the exact opposite. The media bubble created a shift in both the medium and sociopolitics, Politico explains:
“Where newspaper jobs are spread nationwide, internet jobs are not: Today, 73 percent of all internet publishing jobs are concentrated in either the Boston-New York-Washington-Richmond corridor or the West Coast crescent that runs from Seattle to San Diego and on to Phoenix. The Chicagoland area, a traditional media center, captures 5 percent of the jobs, with a paltry 22 percent going to the rest of the country.”
The shift can be demonstrated in the large miss by the majority of big media players that predicted a landslide win by Hilary Clinton in last year’s US elections. Those who reported on Clinton winning and Trump being swept out to sea were those largely living in the coastal and liberal areas.
“And almost all the real growth of internet publishing is happening outside the heartland, in just a few urban counties, all places that voted for Clinton. So when your conservative friends use “media” as a synonym for “coastal” and “liberal,” they’re not far off the mark.”
The division in America during the election is clearly demonstrated by the working areas of publishing employees. The areas where Clinton dominated and won, were the areas where a whopping 90 percent of the writers worked and lived. And this is why the media missed the plausibility of a Trump win.
So how can we burst the media bubble to stop the bias?
Firstly, it isn’t solely the fault of the reporting journalist. They are a product of their environment. A journalist is no different to a fiction writer in that you write on what you know. But the reporter must take the extra effort to divorce themselves from this predisposition. The internet publisher must also take the extra steps to hire for diversity.
Nonetheless, the media bubble in the US is very real. Other nations are suffering similar fates. It’s a serious case of groupthink – or pack journalism – where only a one-sided slant to reporting exists. The clustering around specific political issues in reporting will eventually lead to the demise of our freedom of speech if it remains unchecked.
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