That the news media rides on the coat-tails of startling headlines and sound bites is far from a revelation. Social media throws little snippets of color onto a revolving pallet, often revolting. Managing all this, for one purpose or another, occupies the most sacred of democratic processes, elections. Facts are transient, spin normal. To deny, disclaim, has become high art.
The health of a media market can be measured by one particular vital sign, the radio sector. Listeners are engaged by stories and songs, dialects and sounds making radio stations part of the local conversation. Reliable and accessible yet always changing radio is the perfect bridge to the new media environment. Advertisers benefit from this and, in turn, make radio broadcasting a good business. That is, in theory, the way it’s supposed to work.
Self-regulation bodies that set standards in the media sphere are widely seen as good things, a mature approach to proscribing bad practices. The distasteful alternatives range from irresponsible chaos – yelling fire in a crowded theater – to legislated regulation – government censorship. The printed media has, more or less, adopted self-regulation as a means of keeping politicians out of their newsrooms while keeping a watchful eye on the politicians.