Seth Godin’s recent blog post about who pays for the media hits the nail on the head.
He’s right; over the past 20 years ago most goods we consumed have increased in quality – with the exception of the news media. The low end now is lower than it was a couple of decades ago. I was working in local news back then, and I could see the erosion of quality starting already. Overnight Neilsen ratings and the presence of ‘the clicker’ had broadcasters focused on selling airtime. That was a switch. They used to sell an audience, one they had built over time. They used to battle for attention; now they battle for ‘eyeballs’. They don’t really seem to care if those eyeballs are glazed and vacant.
I like to think the proliferation of sources means both good and bad examples are multiplying. If we decide not to pay for the bad ones (either with money or our attention), just maybe the good will outlive the bad.