Journalists have always had their critics. Back in the days of typewriters and carbon paper complaints would arrive in the post, often scrawled in green ink on lined Basildon Bond writing paper.
Complaints are usually from people unhappy about what has been published; or, just as often, about what has not been used. Editors have to make rapid decisions, and a big part of that gatekeeper role is to keep out free advertising and, vitally, the sort of unmoderated, opinion-heavy "press releases" turned out endlessly by those with a cause - whether that cause be political, religious, or just an obsession.
Recently I'm concerned to see a new kind of conspiracy theorist emerge online; the keyboard warrior who blames what they call "the MSM", or "mainstream media", for all the world's ills. It's a lazy slander of many hardworking journalists.
A good local newsroom will give fair exposure to groups and individuals in their community, such as those with a mission to stop a road scheme, or to protect badgers, or to promote veganism.
The problem is, they'll never give enough coverage to the zealot's pet subject to satisfy the importance they think it deserves, even though repeated stories on the same narrow topic would bore casual listeners or readers rigid.
The arrival of the internet meant your local militant flat-earther could publish infinite amounts of material online to a worldwide audience of billions. Except, strangely enough, only a handful read it, most of those his existing mates, living in the same silo.
So the idea is born, under the tin-foil hat, that "they" are stopping the message getting out. Them. The MSM.
It's a conveniently broad definition. The mainstream media in question include everything from the national press and the BBC to local papers, news websites, and radio.
I've long argued against the view that the national newspapers influence anything very much. All they do is hold up a mirror to the existing opinions and prejudices of their readers. It wasn't The Sun Wot Won It, it was Sun readers voting as they would have done anyway, with the paper conveniently on the winning side as cheerleader. If you're obsessed with health scares, house prices and Diana you'll buy the Express. The Express won't persuade you to venerate a dead princess.
The BBC has been stuck for a while in reflex apology mode. The default reaction to any form of criticism is to retract or, almost worse, hold an inquiry which somehow implies guilt upfront whatever the eventual findings of the investigation turn out to be.
The issue which has really brought the issue to the boil is the current Labour leadership contest.
Corbyn supporters routinely post pictures online of rallies which "the MSM" are not covering. Except in many cases, they are, but just not with the prominence the faithful feel their story deserves in the overall agenda. We're right back to the green ink, but now it's in the form of a Tweet or a Facebook post.
Let's nip this one in the bud before "it's the MSM" joins "the media's all about dumbing down" and "they all hack phones" as one of the lazy tropes applied to all journalists, irrespective of the facts.