Having CBS apologize for not thoroughly vetting their primary source (who kinda made up his "eyewitness" account) in its “60 Minutes” Benghazi story doesn't help. In general, Americans' confidence in the accuracy of the mass media is near an all-time low. Now, 44% say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the mass media -- up from 40% in 2012, which was the lowest reading since Gallup regularly began tracking the question in 1997.
Cable TV "news" hasn't helped, with its generous leanings either left or right clearly signalling no interest in objectivity. Story selection is also a problem. Wednesday night, NBC Evening News devoted about 45 seconds of its precious 22 minutes of evening news to a noisy Swedish couple frustrated by having to assemble out-of-the-box furniture. Really? And don't even get me started on local news, where coverage of school cupcake sales can easily run longer than the police blotter or town council hearings.
If the overall population has given up on traditional news sources such as newspapers, broadcast and cable TV and newsmagazines, why is there such a rush from all directions (Touchvision, Fusion, Vice, and Now This News, among others) to try and pull Millennials back into the news fold? From my own experience, I can say it‘s alarming that my kids never pick up a newspaper (unless their names are in it), and only watch television news because I'm watching it and they’re waiting impatiently to ask to borrow $25 for gas. They grew up digital -- if you can't click on it or swipe it, it doesn't make their vision field.
Most of these new Millennial-focused news organizations offer stories that can run on the air, on Web sites, on smartphones or tablets. Some offer updated versions of talking heads, while others like Touchvision eschew anchors and the like, saying their presence on camera alone can bias the viewer. All of them have a much hipper approach than you get from network newscasters. In fact, the last thing they want is to be mistaken for your grandfather's news (pops, BTW is the only guy in the house who still reads three newspapers a day).
Millennials are the hot spot for most marketers, who think this generation is just on the verge of discretionary income to get beyond the rent, student loads, car payments, etc. So there should be plenty of advertising support for the "new" news if they can get enough traction with the intended audiences.
Thomas Jefferson wrote: "An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight." For 250 years, this meant the press (or fourth estate, if you will) keeping an unbiased eye on the institutions of government, business and society to assure they functioned as promised.
As a nation, we cannot afford to be uninformed.