… yes, they are cheesy showboats—no doubt—but they are cheesy showboats performing what is likely the ONLY FUNCTION most folks ACTUALLY want out of the Fourth Estate: to warn them about shit that might harm them on a regular day-to-day basis.
A huge portion of “news” focuses on opinion and “analysis” (which is just another kind of opinion) and “commentary” (a third name for opinion). All of these are technically forms of fiction: a person takes a nugget of reality and weaves whatever the hell they want around it. (DISCLOSURE: I was an op-ed writer for years. I’ve looked hard and long at how these particular sausages are made. It has lead to me being pretty goddamned disgusted by the prospect of eating any.)
Meanwhile, the easily maligned local TV investigative reporter? Say what you like about the smarm and histrionic gotcha!ness, but those bastards are speaking facts: they smell something fishy, go and get pics, take samples to a lab, and report the results. God Bless ’em