Nation correspondent John Nichols appears on a panel about the future of media and his book coauthored with Robert McChesney "The Death and Life of American Journalism." A question on citizens comes to surface: Is this the era of the nitwit?
"No this isn’t the era of the nitwit," Nichols says. "This is the era of a media system that treats citizens as nitwits and says that they don’t need information." With the state of journalism suffering, the reality is that citizens are "starved" for information, Nichols says. "The [papers] thought well, gosh, how are we going to keep our profits," Nichols says. "Well, I know, let’s give people dramatically less news, let’s give them less information, let’s start laying off journalists–let’s dumb it down so much, that the rational decision is to stop getting the newspaper."
A viable answer now, as Nichols argues in his book and articles , is to appropriately subsidize journalism so it can inform its starving citizenry. He looks to James Madison for inspiration. "Knowledge will define whether we are a democracy or whether we are a propaganda state controlled by power of the elites that feed us information," he says. "We are not nitwits and it is possible to fix this thing."
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