Of course they chose Katie Couric, that lightweight.... Don't get me started on newspapers. Nobody believes them, that's why they're tanking.... The Internet? Please, all those narcissists and their tedious blogs.
Sound familiar? This is the voice of The Media Kvetch. It's all around us. It says that the media are morally bankrupt, going to pot. Journalism is shoddy. Bias is everywhere. Celebrity and violence rule. There's nobody you can trust.
This week, several academic studies were released blaming the media (including video games and ads) for childhood obesity, consumerism, and other social problems. The Associated Press and other outlets ran stories. My favorite headline was in The Kansas City Star: "Studies Link Media to Modern Ills."
It's all our fault, literally. The media are just evil.
But reality refutes this argument on a daily basis. In the news media specifically, there are more well-crafted stories and arguments produced than anyone could possibly consume. Spend an hour sometime exploring the news sections of Google and Yahoo!—the pond is wide and deep.
So why the kvetch? Because the landscape is changing quickly, and change is threatening. Not so long ago, only a handful of outlets had mass reach, and they felt manageable. Today, if you include blogs and other new options, there are millions of potential mass outlets, and they're all trying to get on your screen.