I haven’t written anything about politics for quite some time, even though that is more on my mind than probably any other topic during this Trump crisis in America. That will probably change. Along with everyone else I know, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we got to this point and how we can recover. For one thing, it seems that we have suffered a great crash in journalism, akin to the great stock market crash of 1929. In particular, I am referring to print journalism, and to further refine, the print journalism of our elite newspapers, e.g., the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
One of the remedies to the great crash was the Glass-Steagall act, which created a hard separation of commercial and investment banking. If we could implement something similar in journalism, with a hard separation of news and opinion, that would be a step in the right direction.
Much of the news reportage in the elite newspapers is still of fairly high quality. News reportage of political events is a little trickier, in large part because journalists haven’t figured out how to report on a president who lies most of the time. But opinion content, especially, and most importantly, in the top elites, has probably never been of poorer quality. In addition to the poor quality of the opinion columnists, we now also have the illiterate, nonsensical toxic garbage which comprises the comments section, which inexplicably accompanies almost every article.
Fire the opinion columnists. Turn off the comments sections forever. Set a target of 100% factual accuracy in reporting. That’s a newspaper I would subscribe to, one that might help our democracy in crisis, and would that would have a legitimate claim to being the “paper of record.”