Media meltdown: Why journalism is battered and bleeding

Let’s start with the good news.

With a flick of a finger, more information is instantaneously available than at any time in human history. Stories, columns, opinions, video, photos, music, movies, texts, social media, streaming, podcasts. There are more ways to consume–desktop, phone, tablet, smartwatch–and infinitely more ways to voice your views.

Okay, enough of that.

The news business is in a tailspin. Firings and layoffs and buyouts are decimating its ranks. Publications and websites are folding. Revenue is plunging. Credibility is at an all-time low. And AI is starting to gobble up jobs.


Worst of all, after the pandemic, scandals and impeachments, economic anxiety and political gridlock, interest in news is declining.

In L.A. they’re always worried about the Big One. For media people it feels like the earthquake has already struck.

The billionaire owner of the once-mighty Los Angeles Times, Patrick Soon-Shiong, has fired the editor and more than 20 percent of its staff, devastating the Washington bureau and several key units. The billionaire owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, has given buyouts to 240 staffers, decimating the metro staff and losing many of the paper’s biggest names.

If newspapers aren’t owned by these wealthy moguls, they’re increasingly controlled by hedge funds whose strip-mining tactics have reduced them to a skeleton of their former selves.

From Vice to Vox, from Time (15 percent laid off) to Business Insider (8 percent), from Sports Illustrated (blown up) to BuzzFeed News (shuttered), the carnage is everywhere.

And just yesterday, the Messenger, a news and aggregation site launched by Jimmy Finkelstein, former owner of the Hill, shut down after less than a year, having lost $38 million and some staffers lured from top publications.

CNN just had a major round of layoffs. Cable news audiences are aging, and cord-cutting is growing in popularity. 

It’s not just that the voracious Internet broke the business model; that happened a quarter-century ago. It’s that there seems to be no end in sight. 

"Journalists across the country burst into flames of panic this week, as bad news for the news business crested and erupted everywhere all at once," writes Jack Shafer in Politico.

The impact is greatest on local reporting, with far fewer folks to check up on their city halls and statehouses, especially in smaller markets.


"No matter how many heroic nonprofit newsrooms like the Baltimore Banner and Daily Memphian take root, no matter how many Substack-like newsletters blossom or creators emerge to drop their videos on YouTube, you can’t deny the journalism business’ decline," Shafer writes.

What’s remarkable to me is how many of these pieces, and there have been many, overlook the importance of political bias. Republicans have been complaining about a liberal tilt since I began to read newspapers. Now, in the Trump era, half the country believes the media have become the opposition party, determined to block their man from returning to the White House. But during the Biden presidency, a growing percentage of those on the left have lost trust in the business as well.

You have Red and Blue America, each filled with anger, each side viewing the other as evil and dangerous, with the press having forfeited its standing as a neutral arbiter of facts. 

"What makes this so unnerving," says the Atlantic, "is the fact that the meltdown has come amid—and in seeming defiance of—a generally booming economy. The ranks of professional journalists keep declining even as overall unemployment stays low, incomes rise, and the stock market reaches new heights." 

The author, Paul Farhi, a longtime media reporter for the Washington Post, just took the paper’s buyout.

"What’s more, a presidential-election cycle tends to produce a surge of readers, viewers, and advertisers as people pay closer attention to the news. Not this time, at least so far."

Beyond news fatigue, Farhi notes, "Facebook has steadily reduced the amount of news that users see in their feed, wiping out a major source of traffic." I’d add that Google has gobbled some of that revenue as well.


There are obviously exceptions. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe are strong franchises. Fox News exceeds the prime-time ratings of CNN and MSNBC combined. But even television networks feel compelled to pour money into online shows and pay sites.

"Will journalism become a hobby like scrapbooking or street busking, done on the cheap or for donations, but one without much of a career path?" Politico asks.

I’m more pessimistic than I’ve ever been, and there’s no easy solution. Some say government subsidies are needed, but that raises serious conflict questions. And if zillionaires can’t revive newspapers and magazines, what hope is there for ordinary companies and local owners?

I do think that just as television didn’t wipe out radio, journalism will have to morph into new and more compelling forms to survive. Who would have thought even three years ago that everyone and their brother-in-law would have a podcast?

But people are willing to pay monthly fees for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and the like, though they are going through a belt-tightening wave as well, with Spotify having just axed 17 percent of its staff. 

If news outlets can’t convince most of the public that their product is worth buying, they bear the ultimate blame.

Biden suggests Republicans will impeach him because inflation is down

President Biden on Friday suggested that Republicans will impeach him because inflation has come down so much that his opponents can no longer attack the Biden economy.

The president made those remarks in Auburn, Maine, where he delivered a stump speech arguing that "Bidenomics" is strengthening the middle class, creating jobs and bringing inflation down. 

"In fact, we have the lowest rate of inflation among the world's major economies," Biden said. "While there's more work to do, earlier this week the Washington Post suggested that Republicans may have to find something else to criticize me for, now that inflation is coming down. 

"Maybe they'll decide to impeach me because it's coming down, I don't know," Biden said. "I love that one. Anyway, that's another story."


House Republicans have floated launching an impeachment inquiry against Biden amid newly surfaced allegations that suggest his involvement in the business dealings his son, Hunter. Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., has led House Oversight Committee investigations into the Biden family's allegedly corrupt business dealings for months, seeking evidence that Biden used his former office of vice president as leverage to enrich the family. 

The president has fallen directly at the center of that investigation in recent weeks as an unclassified FBI document — an FD-1023 form — was released, containing allegations that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden "coerced" the CEO of Burisma Holdings to pay them millions of dollars in exchange for their help in getting the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating the company fired.

That FD-1023 form is part of an ongoing federal investigation, law enforcement sources told Fox News Digital.

Biden's comments in Maine point to his strategy for a potential impeachment inquiry — to delegitimize the investigations as a last-ditch political effort by Republicans, who he will claim have run out of substantive issues to discuss ahead of the next election. 


Biden's case for re-election in 2024 rests on recent low unemployment numbers and GDP growth that he argues are the direct result of his policies. "Bidenomics" is the president's catch-all term for increased government spending, higher taxes on the wealthy and subsidies for the clean energy industry he claims will stimulate growth and create jobs. Bolstered by a strong economic report that showed GDP growth beat expectations and rose 2.4% in the second quarter of 2023, the president took credit for an improving economy.

"Yesterday, we learned the economy grew faster than expected last quarter. And this morning, we saw data showing that last month the annual rate of inflation continued to decline," Biden said Thursday. "So, inflation is now at its lowest point in two years, and wages are up after being adjusted for inflation." 

The president boasted that 13 million new jobs have been created since he assumed office, including 800,000 new manufacturing jobs. He noted that unemployment has been below 4% for the longest stretch in over 50 years, and declared that all jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic have now been recovered with higher pay and more job satisfaction. 

"I'm not here to declare victory on the economy. We have more work to do. We have a plan for turning things around," Biden said. "Bidenomics is just another way of saying restoring the American dream."


While recent economic indicators suggest the economy is improving, and fears of an imminent recession are fading, public opinion polling continues to indicate that Americans are giving Biden little credit. The president’s approval ratings on the economy remain deeply underwater in most surveys.

A Fox News national poll conducted last month indicated that most voters were unhappy with how things are going in the country and continued to rate economic conditions negatively. In addition, few voters believe they are gaining financial ground, according to the survey.

Fox News' Brooke Singman and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.