In the run-up to the United States Presidential election this year, we have witnessed a number of signs that the mainstream media is no longer the dominant voice in the American political discussion. This has been the election year they have gotten it all wrong and have fallen out-of-touch with the average American voter’s concerns. What’s more is they are yet to realize their need to make serious and substantive changes before facing complete and utter extinction.
From early on, the press fawned over the Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, with glowing coverage. That is no metaphor, by the way; a CBS broadcast literally aired a shot of Clinton glowing a golden hue following her nomination for President. They provided excuses for her email server situation. Personally, I had always suspected that the mainstream media’s cozy relationship influenced their coverage of conservative/right leaning candidates. That suspicion was confirmed courtesy of emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks. These emails provided voters with an insight into the rather comfortable relationship between Democrats and so-called journalists at networks such as CNN and MSNBC as well as paper-based publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
Hungry for truth and empowered by social media, voters began a great migration from television to alternative sources of media and independent journalists on Twitter and Breitbart. Without independent journalism, it is highly doubtful that the story of Hillary Clinton physically collapsing would have made any headlines on CNN.
The mainstream media has shown such frightful irresponsibility to truth by attacking these alternative sources as ‘fake news.’ The attempt to label these sources as Russian propaganda seems like a desperate move, but it is perhaps one of the first indications that these media tycoons are becoming aware of their ever-growing irrelevance in the face of social media.
Back in October, President Obama floated the idea of a ‘truthiness test‘ for news. Just this week Facebook has made available a plugin that identifies ‘fake‘ news stories. This puts the definition of truth into question and at the center of the discussion. Who will decide what is truly news and what is ‘fake news’. How could such an ambiguous, subjective concept be manipulated? These are questions we need to begin to ask before we allow the power of truth to be usurped.