[Blast from the past. This is an excerpt from a longer speech given by Tony Blair shortly after he left office. He spoke of the media and how the job of govt has changed and become more difficult because of changing nature of media.]
June 14, 2007
by Tony Blair
... First, scandal or controversy beats ordinary reporting hands down. News is rarely news unless it generates heat as much as or more than light.
Second, attacking motive is far more potent than attacking judgment. It is not enough for someone to make an error. It has to be venal. Conspiratorial.
Third, the fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out.
Fourth, rather than just report news, even if sensational or controversial, the new technique is commentary on the news being as, if not more important than the news itself. So - for example - there will often be as much interpretation of what a politician is saying as there is coverage of them actually saying it. In the interpretation, what matters is not what they mean, but what they could be taken to mean. This leads to the incredibly frustrating pastime of expending a large amount of energy rebutting claims about the significance of things said, that bears little or no relation to what was intended.
In turn, this leads to a fifth point: the confusion of news and commentary.
Comment is a perfectly respectable part of journalism. But it is supposed to be separate. Opinion and fact should be clearly divisible. The truth is a large part of the media today not merely elides the two but does so now as a matter of course. In other words, this is not exceptional. It is routine. The final consequence of all of this is that it is rare today to find balance in the media. Things, people, issues, stories, are all black and white. Life's usual grey is almost entirely absent. 'Some good, some bad'; 'some things going right, some going wrong': these are concepts alien to today's reporting. It's a triumph or a disaster. A problem is 'a crisis'. A setback is a policy 'in tatters'. A criticism, 'a savage attack'.