A Press that Dupes its Readers

Yesterday, we said there was a cohort of news consumers who didn’t mind being misinformed, even deliberately.  Today, we note that that ain’t everybody.

There really are news consumers who need to understand the world (in so far as that’s possible). Maybe they need information to make money. Maybe they need to do right by their children. Maybe they need to hear what’s being said about their neighborhood, or profession, or class, or medical condition. Maybe — who knows why — they can’t help but be interested in things.

A press that aims to meet the needs of this group has got to be pretty reliably good. Not necessarily great, but good.

Their readers will leave angrily if they feel they are being deliberately duped (either actively or by predictable omissions). Mistakes will happen, of course. But if readers receive the signal that the news organization is not acting in good faith, that it is trying to dupe them, then any good relationship is over.

These readers may linger on, lacking alternatives, but now it’s a new, different, and distrustful relationship.