DETROIT — If you are a person of a certain age it's odd to drive down a major artery in a large metropolitan American city and strain to find a newspaper box at any of the crossroads.
That's especially true in a city such as Detroit, with a storied history of competitive journalism that dug deep into holding power in check, whether it was city hall, the unions or large corporations.
It's not that those papers are gone. The lack of boxes is in part because of contractual delivery systems and partly because of vandalism. But the disappearing boxes are mostly because we consume our news differently.
That consumption is contributing to a crisis in American journalism that benefits no one.
Turn on the television at any given moment of the day, and you are likely to hear the anchor say 'Breaking News' at least 12 times in one hour. Go on Twitter, and you are likely to see the hashtags #breakingnews #scoop #exclusive fill your timeline from reporters and news organizations in the Washington and New York newsrooms.
And go on Facebook, and half of your friends are posting stories from a left-leaning news organization's take on the news and the other half are posting stories from a right-leaning news organization, and most of your friends declare one or the other "fake news," following with lots of words in all capital letters.
It's exhausting, it is frustrating and it leaves the consumer wary of how they navigate the news.
And here is the hard truth: No one is exempt, there is a shared responsibility in this lack of trust between the American people and her press, and unless we find a way to unravel it, that mistrust is only going to get worse.
First, my profession.
Beginning in the 1980s, Washington and New York City newsrooms began to be dominated by people who had the same backgrounds; for the most part they went to the same Ivy League journalism schools, where they made the right contacts and connections to get their jobs.
Yes, elite networks are a thing not just in law schools, as "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance so aptly described of his experiences in law school. They also exist in Ivy League or elite journalism schools.
And the journalists who came from working-class roots found it in their best interest to adopt the conventional, left-of-center views that were filling the halls of newsrooms.
In short, after a while you adopt the culture you exist in either out of survival or acceptance or a little of both. Or you really just wanted to shed your working-class roots for a variety of reasons: shame, aspiration, ascension, etc.
That does not make them bad people – aspiration is the heart of the American Dream — but it did begin the decline of connection between elite journalism institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the country.
So when fewer and fewer reporters shared the same values and habits of many of their consumers, inferences in their stories about people of faith and their struggles squaring gay marriage or abortion with their belief systems were picked up by the readers.
Pro-tip, don't think people can't pick up an inference, even the most subtle, in the written word. It is as evident as a news anchor rolling his eyes at someone on his panel he doesn't agree with.
Same goes for job losses, particularly in coal mines or manufacturing. News reports filled with how those job losses help the environment are not going to sit well with the person losing their job. Also: Just because they have a job that faces an environmental challenge does not mean they hate the environment.
For 20 years these news organizations, along with CBS, NBC and ABC, were the only game in town. They served as gatekeepers of information, and as their newsrooms became more and more detached from the center of the country, consumers began to become detached from them.
And then along came the Internet. Not only were different sources now available, but news aggregators such as Drudge made it easy to find things giving everyone access to "alternative facts."
The universe of information expanded, and it became clear that what Peter Jennings, Dan Rather or the New York Times told consumers was not the whole story, and if you were a conservative (and a plurality of Americans self-identify as center right) you lost all trust in the mainstream media.
It took 17 years for that pressure to build not just among conservatives but also Democrats who came from a family of New Deal ideals who became weary of the constant misrepresentation and belittling of the traditions they held dear: church, family, guns and life.
The result was a populist explosion against all things big: big companies, big banks, big institutions and big media. The movement went undetected by the D.C. and New York centralized press not because they are bad people, not because they had an ax to grind against the center of the country. They just didn't know them. They did not know anyone like them, or if they did it reminded them of all the things they despised about their upbringing, and they wanted to correct those impulses.
And so they missed it. They were a little shocked by the support for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, and they were really shocked by the support candidate Donald J. Trump received in the primaries
And they were really, really shocked by his win.
The problem journalists face right now is that they have never really acknowledged his win appropriately, at least not in the eyes of the people who voted for him.
Since the day he won, the inference that his win was illegitimate has been everywhere. It set the tone in the relationship between the voters and the press that has only soured since November of last year.
The press acknowledging Trump's victory would go a long way to begin winning that trust back with conservatives and his broader coalition of voters.
You see, they aren't just conservatives. If reporters would go out and talk to them, and more importantly listen to them, they would understand who they are.
And that visit should be done by car, no flying in and staying at the airport Marriot and getting points — drive. Learn their community, their needs, their values and their perspective.
The American people need to do a better job as well of critically consuming their news and not crying victim when something is reported unfairly. Your knee-jerk reaction should not be to run to the conservative or liberal silo that says everything you want to hear and encasing yourself in your own bubble.
We all need to be better at this. Not everything is fake news, in fact not even half of it is — but eye rolling and inference need to be banished from the news, and people who live outside of New York City and Washington need to be understood with more honesty.
The American people still should be skeptical of anything they read – running to your safe place of news delivery isn't always in your best interest; critical consumption is.
Salena Zito is a columnist for the Washington Examiner.