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A Unified Theory of the Old Media Collapse

Asymmetrical tolerance and the collapse of Big Media credibility: How 2004 brought doom to legacy media.

7:30 PM, Dec 28, 2004 • By HUGH HEWITT
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On Monday on my blog, I suggested that reporters and producers employed by Big Media should make available their biographies and résumés on the web for easy viewing by the public, as well as answers to ten brief questions, including: "For whom did the reporter vote for president in the past five elections? Do they attend church regularly and if so, in which denomination? Do they believe that the late-term abortion procedure known as partial-birth abortion should be legal? Do they believe same sex marriage ought to be legal? Did they support the invasion of Iraq? Do they support drilling in ANWR?" The outrage in response to my suggested disclosures from some bloggers was intense and immediate. One even suggested that posing such questions was incipient McCarthyism.

The old media, too, will likely recoil from the idea that their employees ought to disclose their past employment and education, their politics, and their policy positions. But why? My guess is that everyone reading already knows the answer: The uniformity of views within legacy media's legion of employees is nearly complete and very far left-of-center. And that is precisely why the old media has run aground so hard and so fast. Everyone knows it. The consumers of news now have choices. As a result, CNN's ratings over a decade are in a freefall. As are those of CBS. And the circulation of the Los Angeles Times is hardly graphing out better than either of those outfits.

The blogosphere is intensely partisan--just as old media has been. But, unlike the old media, there is truth in advertising on the Internet. This is a significant advantage going forward in the competition for credibility and trust. If old media does not develop tolerance for the majoritarian points of view in the United States, it will continue to decline in reach and authority.

Hugh Hewitt is the host of a nationally syndicated radio show, and author most recently of Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That is Changing Your World. His daily blog can be found at HughHewitt.com.