Cronkhite exhales from the Big J pedestal

From the Arizona Republic comes this revealing quote from Uncle Walter:

The problem we’ve got with newspapers and television today, television news, is, I think, the fact that the public is too ignorant to understand the important news of the day. It wants to be entertained rather than informed.
Look, I understand the importance of audience research and the reality of “the sheep leading the sheep,” but this ranks up there with Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech in terms of blaming the victims. Too ignorant to understand? This is exactly what Walter Lippmann used as justification for an élite, educated, “professional” class of people to run things. And chief among these elites was a professional press, the kind for which Mr. Cronkhite waxes nostalgic.

One who artificially inflates his own sense of importance — regardless of the circumstances — is the real ignoramus. And this is precisely why the energy driving the citizens media revolution is so powerful.

Are free people capable of governing themselves or do they need an educated élite to do it for them? This is the most pressing issue of our day.

UPDATE: More of the same
Romenesko clips a Lawrence Journal‐World interview with Carl Bernstein, Television has been taken over by an idiot culture:

“For the first time in our history, the weird, the stupid, the coarse, the sensational and the untrue are becoming our cultural norm — even our cultural ideal,” he says. “The gravest threat today to the best obtainable version of the truth comes from these lowered standards. And the consequences to a society that is misinformed and disinformed by the grotesque values of this idiot culture are truly perilous.”
This kind of noise is going to get louder and louder as institutional journalism seeks to quell the sound rising from the bottom. We know there’s a bunch of crap out there, and that’s why we’re trying to do something about it instead of howling at the moon.


  1. Indeed it is easy to say that American people only want to be entertained and that is why the media is so bad right now. Such generalizations are dangerous. While Fox News may have made enormous strides, Public Radio is doing extremely well too. And then there is satellite radio that is offering very unique choices to Americans.

    And is the public really more ignorant than before? Absolutely not. It is just that there were always people who like to be ignorant; now they have a choice for news. Jon Stewart has a news segment and millions of Americans get most of their daily dose of news from him.

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