As newspapers' budgets, circulations and newsrooms shrink, Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center takes the opportunity to revisit the Jeffersonian idea of the press as government watchdogs, suggesting that the decline of newspapers and the rise of electronic media might be the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate recent press performance. Policinski writes:
Critics and pundits are challenging the idea of newspapers as democracy's defender, saying voters can get information elsewhere and that citizens can track legislative acts and evaluate government policies via other sources. A columnist for Editor & Publisher, the industry's own trade magazine, recently (and correctly) slammed the press-as-watchdogs who - as the headline over his column put it - "failed to bark on economy." He and others also have noted the news media's collective failure to expose bogus government claims regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.