The world wide wibble is killing off local newspapers and the result is that there is a shortage of hacks capable of holding government agencies, schools and businesses accountable.
While the number of news outlets online has increased, actual grass roots reporting, where someone shows up to council meetings and courts, is plummeting, according to a US report
The Federal Communications Commission report said traditional media business in the US has been losing cash from advertising and been forced to cut staff and shrink publications.
Since 2001, staffing levels at daily newspapers have fallen by a quarter.
This has resulted in stories not written,scandals not exposed, government waste not discovered and health dangers not identified in time, the report says.
While many people see local papers as places where they go to see who won the Jam competion in this week’ WI meeting, the local rag has an important part in local democracy.
People are now voting for politicians who they have no knowledge about because they have not been ruthlessly questioned by a local hack about their ideas to solve the sewage crisis.
The FCC report has called for the creation of public affairs cable channels similar to C-SPAN at the state level, easing tax rules for non-profit news organisations and directing more federal advertising spending to local news media.
Unfortunately for the Americans, the First Amendment limits what the government can do to shape the future of the media industry.
According to the report’s lead author, Steve Waldman, the world wide wibble was not filling the journalism gap left by the contraction of newspapers.
This means that the independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism is at risk.