What is important to understand is that beneath the glitz, newspapers actually operate as favor banks, to use novelist Tom Wolfe’s phrase from Bonfire of the Vanities. That is to say, newspapers are forever paying favors forward, in expectation of reciprocal acts of kindness from players yet unknown, accepting deposits of information and emphasis, making grants of credit and blame.
Newspapers reward their culture heroes and presidential favorites, penalize those with whom they disagree, further the activities of which they approve and ignore those which they do not, hoping all the while that the intricate web of transactions actually is in the black over time. No accountant could ever hope to make sense of it. That’s what they pay publishers and editors to do.