This month's issue of The Atlantic has a long and counter-intuitive piece by James Fallows, a well-known journalist and commentator on the media. Fallows argues that, contrary to the accepted wisdom that I've been echoing this semester, the media isn't doing such a bad job in its primary tasks. Moreover, he states that although change is inevitable, it doesn't have to mean an inevitable slide down.
He starts off by showing that in every generation journalists look back in the belief that the past was always better, a mythical golden age that can never be recaptured. But we can't fight changes caused by shifting cultural trends and technological advancements. Fallows spends a lot of time discussing Gawker, which until recently has had the reputation of nothing more than a scandal-mongering platform. Now, as Fallows points out, it's become the source of revelations about candidate's personal lives and the newest scandals. This may seem tawdry, but it's the kind of news that sells and that people demand.
So, rather than fight this trend, perhaps we should embrace it. Accept that media is a business, accept that people's tastes have changed, and let the media evolve to fit what people want. There will always be a market for high-end publications, like The Atlantic or Harper's or even the New York Times, but maybe not everything has to meet this standard of elite-defined excellence.