What do you mean by "the media"?

To me it makes no more sense to refer to “the media” than to “the politicians” or “the government” or “the sports” or maybe “the athletes.” It’s not that broad terms like this are meaningless, but they confuse the point. They make it easy to write off entire institutions; to divide and polarize people broadly. If you start talking to a guy at the park and he says something like “those rat bastard politicians in Washington,” it’s pretty easy to predict the conversation’s level of nuance.

Of course, sometimes things can be said of all politicians, all doctors, or all journalists—“doctors go to medical school,” for example—but not often. The guy at the park who thinks politicians are all liars is most likely disgusted with certain things that certain people have said and done. But the logical end does not seem to be spurning the entire idea of elected officials—rejecting any iteration of the government, and to see the country as divided between people who love all aspects of government and people who hate it.

Interrogating the meaning of “the media” has become more important in recent months, as no American president has tried so aggressively to discredit all journalists. This sort of wholesale antagonism can only occur in a world that is drastically oversimplified into binaries. If you’ve read this far, you probably don’t “hate the media” or “love the media,” but see it as the complex professional-commercial-personal-political ecosystem that it is. Making sweeping claims about “the media” jumbles up journalists with infotainment and partisan pundits and advocates.