The Rise of Junk Journalism

The race for profits is undermining quality journalism, according to panelists at the annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). As publications cut spending and staffing levels in newsrooms, "Quick and cheap celebrity gossip, gruesome snippets on accidents and crimes, and fluffy features about cute pets usually drive out costly, complex reporting on politics and economics, creating the media equivalent of a sugary, junk-food diet," reports David Armstrong. According to Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll, newspapers were once viewed as a public trust partially exempt from the rules that govern other businesses but are now simply businesses, akin to selling widgets or pork bellies. "The very best public-service journalism is probably as good it's ever been, maybe better," Carroll said. "But it's being done by fewer and fewer papers."