Media critics often rail about the bias and the blindness in so much mainstream media coverage, and this is clearly an issue. Watching the media try to turn OWS into a genuinely significant movement of left populism that would counter the Tea Party was one of the funniest spectacles in some time: so much earnestness lavished on such an unpromising corpse.

But at the end the vapidity and the stupidity of the news industry is more worrying than the bias. News is ultimately a matter of stories: constructing a series of continuing narratives that help us identify what matters in the daily and weekly news flow, and using those narratives to organize and present news in ways that allow busy readers to see what is happening and what it means.

The mainstream media is failing by and large at this essential task. It isn’t telling the important stories in a compelling way. The new great game in Asia, the global green meltdown, the crisis of the blue social model, the global contest between Christianity and Islam and a handful of other big narratives aren’t being covered by the mainstream media in a serious and useful way.