Groupthink and economic precarity go together
Journalists lie and deceive not only to protect their paycheck. They have become activists who see their mission as lecturing the unwashed masses. That they know nothing is an irony lost on them. I remember when journalists wanted to hold people in power accountable. Now they will cozy up to anyone in power who spouts things they like to hear.
"One consequence of the local news decline is the concentration of media in a select few places. New York and Washington D.C. are now where most young journalists live. The New York-D.C. nexus always mattered and set the agenda for the national news through organs like the New York Times and Time Magazine, but there was a strong regional counterweight to whatever they did."
Weird irony - as the national news media has become more and more NYC-centric, NYC's local media has gotten shittier and shittier, particularly in the outermost parts of the outer boroughs. There's just no money in covering East New York or Flushing or literally-anywhere-in-Staten-Island - and even if there were, most transplants are physically incapable of giving a shit about outer-borough ethnic affairs. And even if you're from those neighborhoods and are willing to put up with low pay (there are dozens of us!) there's just... no local outlets. And the boroughwide ones know the advertising money comes from selling a vision of NYC as a playground for white twenty-somethings. I don't know a lot about DC but I suspect its local media is similarly hollowed out.
You claim Trump was “too weak a tyrant” without ever engaging in any introspection that just maybe, he was nothing remotely approximating a “tyrant” to begin with.
Physician, heal thyself.
Ross, your idea of government subsidies for struggling media is being tried in nz at the moment. This has led to the view on the right that the media has become the paid puppeteers of the government. Personally, I think they would have sucked up to this government anyway, but it heightens the mistrust of the media by a good third of the population.
One small data point:
R.B. wrote: "For decades, people would line up outside newsstands to grab the Voice for free so they could get the jump on a cheap place to live."
The "free" Village Voice only dates from 1996 (per Wikipedia). Before then you had to pay for it at the newsstand just like any of the dailies. I sold mail subscriptions to the Voice in a college dorm in 1971. It was worth it. But in the '90s they began to face competition from freebies. In response, they began to lay off their journalists and it became harder to rationalize paying for it.
I recently read a john Boyne book about the life of a priest in Ireland. When the man was inserted into his profession in his youth it was a source of great pride for him and the family. As the book progresses through decades he is insulted on a number of occasions, mainly by youngsters, and he struggles to accept this change in respect. I have worked in the journalist profession as a columnist but from my point of view I see the same progression, as well as growing irrelevance as fewer people read you. If I meet a young journalist now for the sake of civility I dont engage (my default position is of derision) the older ones have now mostly got out, not only because they were seen as expensive by management but they themselves must have sensed the hatred a reasonable percentage of the population feels for them and that must be disheartening compared to the glory days when it was a respected gig. Of course if you are a superstar, boom, substack is a path to riches and reinvigorated respect.
On another subject, ross, you were very personally neutral on Glen G ( follower killer?) As a rightie I was told for years to hate this commie, now I love him (whilst disagreeing him a reasonable amount of time his insight and institutional knowledge is the best) and many of his old fans hate him. He is a man of such integrity I can not believed he has changed, it’s an amazing thing. Taibbi similar.