Some of the first things that appear when you search “press criticism” are questions about whether it is dead or dying and whether or not Twitter is the culprit. I went looking for press criticism, because it was mentioned in our textbook, and I had no idea what it was. It turns out that press criticism is writing about journalism. When we’re talking about the presentation and content of Fox News or the New York Times, we’re engaging in press (or media) criticism. In fact, much of what we do here on these blogs is media criticism!
But here at the Daily Beast Ben Crair makes the argument that Twitter brings out the worst in everyone. He’s not sure why, one possibility he presents is the “faux” informality of the medium (an issue that caused a scandal in France, when someone used the informal “tu” to address one of their betters, rather than the formal “vous,” a move they claim was at least partially motivated by the character limit on Twitter). Furthermore, he claims that part of the problem is that Twitter has created a culture not only of put-downs disguised as “press criticism” but also self-aggrandizement. People talk themselves up, “trumpeting [their] own objectivity,” rather than creating the honest critique that provides a valuable service for news outlets and journalists (something the UK newspapers might, in fact, be lacking these days).
I went looking for examples of press criticism, most of which I didn’t have time to read, but of particular interest was Alexander Cockburn, who died recently, and whose work another press critic collected in some links, on bitly.
Now, as I am thinking on this, some of the articles I read at the beginning, talking about Islamophobia might fall under the banner of press/media criticism. They are, after all, discussing the kind of language used by journalists, and the way that shapes the way the general public perceives the world. What worthier goal does press criticism have than that?
There are also some interesting places that media and press criticism crop up; instances of it exist on racialicious.com & thefeministwire.com. They get into the business of critiquing the portrayals in the media (more the business of the Communications Dept, than the journalists) but also they can dig into how the media chooses to report on certain issues.
I wonder if part of the reason I had to look for press criticism, is that we are used to it, in today’s world. Everyone is a press critic, half the aggregate sites (like BoingBoing) contribute a bit of criticism, perhaps that is something inherent in the collection and contrasting of facts. Everyone has an opinion about what should be said, and an opinion on what is being said, by everyone.