Among my Seven Truths They Don’t Want You To Know About the Media is Truth #2 -There are no mainstream media (MSM). Of course we have big and small media; however, we use all kinds of media and our old legacy media hold no special status.
Want some evidence?
Yesterday we got a bit of news.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, was constitutional. Now I don’t care how you feel about this story, pro or con. But no one can deny that this will likely be one of the most important stories of the year.
And everyone in the news media knew that this story would be breaking at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 28th. The decision coming down was definitely not a surprise.
Both CNN and Fox News initially got the story wrong. As the brilliant satirical news commentator Stephen Colbert put it to the networks, “You suck at news!”
In their effort to be the first to report it, both cable news networks initially reported that the court had overturned the individual mandate requirement that everyone purchase health insurance or pay a fine/tax because the court rejected the argument that this was justified by the commerce clause of the constitution. Except that that that Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion went on to say that the mandate could be justified under congress’s authority to levy taxes.
And so… two of our biggest sources of breaking news got the story flat out wrong.
Meanwhile, a little blog that typically draws a few thousand readers a day, SCOTUSblog, was the authoritative news site that everyone turned to for immediate and accurate news about the decision. And on a day that several bigger web sites had trouble staying online because of heavy demand, SCOTUSblog had server capacity to spare despite drawing hundreds of times more traffic than normal.
What can we learn from this?
- Niche, speciality news sites can often do a better job of reporting narrowly focused news as can big legacy news organizations.
- In our modern media world, there’s no such thing as mainstream media. We have lots and lots of media choices, big and small, that are all capable of being influential in different ways.
- And Fox News and CNN are really not all that different. Both are apparently more concerned with being first and drawing an audience than with getting a story right.