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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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15

The Decline of Modern Journalism in the Neo-Partisan Era

Richard Campbell

ABSTRACT

Today's media market is a fragmented world where more options than ever exist, but where readers of hardcopy newspapers are disappearing, and vast numbers now embrace cable news, social networks, blogs, and Twitter. The former “mass” audience morphs into smaller niche users who chase particular hobbies, entertainment, and politics. Media outlets that hope to survive appeal not to mass audiences any more but to interest groups – from sports fans and history buffs to conservatives or progressives. Mimicking the news business of the eighteenth century, partisanship has returned with a vengeance, more profitable than ever. For the US news media, muting political leanings to reach a mass audience no longer makes sense. Instead, media now make money by targeting and catering to niche interests. In such a marketplace, we see the decline in a form of journalism that promoted fact-gathering and expertise, and held up “objectivity” as the ideal for professional practice. Rising in its place is a new era of partisan news – a “journalism of assertion” – marked partly by a return to journalism's colonial roots and partly by the deterioration of the “journalism of verification” that once kept watch over society's central institutions. This transition is symbolized by the rise of the news pundit as a kind of “expert” with more standing than verified facts, authentic documents, and actual experts. Today the ...

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