Anyone relying on journalists for their news, which is most of us, need to remember the context from which they report, the types of people in the business, and how they interact with athletes. Of course, it's understandable to want to shy away from tough questions. Back in college, I worked on the school newspaper for a few months, and my first assignment was to interview a wide receiver for the Cardinal. He started opposite another receiver who was catching a lot more passes, making a lot more yards. I asked him a series of tough questions, and this guy, who was 6' 4" and built like steel pipes, glared at me, said "I don't like these questions," and my interview was over.
It's pretty tough to be a critic when you're, let's say, a local sports reporter, if you need access to athletes for interviews. Or a movie critic who depends on studios for advance screenings. Book critics have it easy, as they can grab a copy from their local bookstore and don't necessarily have to meet the authors. Book reviews don't have to be as timely as movie reviews, either. Of course, the whole feud between Tom Wolfe and John Irving is wildly entertaining for all of us on the sidelines.
Local newspapers and local television news are a complete waste of time. In this day and age, when you can pick and choose your news sources from across the web or across cable TV, feed your mind something better. My picks:
--Roger Ebert, The New Yorker, Entertaiment Weekly for movie reviews (if only the ghost of Pauline Kael could screen films from the movie theater way on high)
--Motley Fool for financial news
--Sportsjones (which Nate just introduced me to) for sports coverage
--Rob Neyer, Baseball Prospectus for baseball commentary and analysis
--Entertainment Weekly for general entertainment news, though I prefer the print edition to the online version
--Salon for general discussion of American pop culture
--I use a variety of sources for news--CNN(general), CNET (for technology), Slashdot (more opinionated tech coverage)
I'm sure I'm missing some. It doesn't have quite the same charm as the newspaper tossed onto the front doorstep every morning in time for coffee and eggs and bacon, but it's a richer, healthier dose of ideas.