A new book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, chronicling the history and incentives of media. Essentially, media is the business of making money through advertising. In order to get that advertising they need circulation. In order to get circulation they need to get our attention. That’s where it all goes down hill, reporters are to cover the news when it’s there and make it up when it’s not.
A brief history of media from the book.
The Party Press: The earliest form of news was one-stop-shop. The editor, publisher, writer and printer was the same person. His service was to communicate ideas and information about important issues and his dedication was to the political part of the town.
The Yellow Press: 1833 marked the first evolution of media, paying for the news. This started the iconic “read all about it” selling on the street corner.
The Modern Stable Press: The New York Times, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” mission ushered in quality news for low costs through subscription models.
À la Carte Press: It’s no longer about selling a package of new. Every story is its own mini paper being sold in a virtual version of the “read all about it” street corner model from the 1830’s.
The write up on Farnam Street is more in depth than the summary above and also cites related books on the topic.