Media Criticism

When it comes to the news media, everyone’s a critic, especially in the 21st century, when it is possible to share one’s criticisms with the world via social media. But finding fault with society’s messengers goes back to ancient times. As the Greek playwright Sophocles noted in the 5th century BCE, “No man delights in the bearer of bad news.” Writing in the 2nd century CE, the historian Plutarch reported that Tigranes, the king of Armenia, chopped off the head of a bearer of bad tidings and would listen to “only those that flattered him.”

Politicians have sought to discredit news about themselves ever since, pointing to errors, overreliance on anonymous sources, and what they see as an emphasis on the negative as evidence that news ...

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