The News Media Are More Superficial Than Ever…Right?

I recently came across the following passage in a book I’m reading:

“Of this changing media-environment in the past decade of American life…
Since time on air is always limited and space in print is always tight, all reporting must be the snatching of fragments of a continuum, chosen by each reporter’s own inner judgment of which fragments reveal or symbolize a larger general truth. Reporters and the media thus sit in judgment on candidates.”

That quote may seem obvious to you. After all, you’ve surely noticed that the media blow every small gaffe (or fragment) out of proportion, such as this week’s doozy by Mitt Romney. And you’ve surely noticed that the trend has gotten worse over the past decade, as the book’s author stated.

But what might surprise you is that the quote was written more than 40 years ago. Author Theodore H. White wrote those words in “The Making of the President 1968,” published in 1969.

We often lament the superficiality of today’s media. And surely, the trends Mr. White identified in the late 1960s have only grown worse over the past 43 years.


But sometimes we forget that the trend lines we complain about have actually been in motion for a long time – and that our complaints mirror those made a long time ago by our parents and grandparents.

I know that’s true. I inherited my copy of the book from my grandfather, who died in 1982.