All of this is understandable—most people have better things to worry about, and besides, representative democracy has never depended on every citizen delving into OMB reports and government org charts. But it does mean that when press accounts simply mirror public frustration with the government, they may not meet their responsibility to explain the source of that frustration—and that doesn’t do the public any good.

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

Greg Marx is an adjunct lecturer at The Medill School and a facilitator with The OpEd Project. She served as an editorial board member, columnist, library director, and No. 2 in the features department of the Chicago Sun-Times.