Western media are relatively free, not least due to the codified values of freedom of opinion and of expression. However, classical media need to face a paradox: on the one hand, they are regarded as classical quality outlets by their audiences, in the other hand, diversity is on the decline, on the whole, due to conglomerate dynamics and developments.
To complicate things, lobbyism and professionalized PR by economic, sociocultural and political interest groups deliver more and more targeted marketing pieces. The latter are often less objective than researched journalistic pieces. Even agenda setting does not come without limits, due to bandwagonism and the fact that audiences are more interested in things they recently saw, read or heard.
Let us hope that classical media understand their situation and react by investing in independent research, despite decreasing ad revenue. Classical media should distinguish themselves by publishing original content and be bold enough to choose topics not everyone of their competitors come to choose. If not, consumers risk being submerged by PR pieces, relying on corporate and citizen blogging, which will likely be of lower journalistic quality than the content available when we grew up.
Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
23 November 2020