Trusted brands of truth can raise us up and bring us down. They keep score. They enlighten and frighten us. The Fourth Estate of our democracy is the accountability delivered by the freedom of the press.

But the rules of engagement have changed.

A $787.5 million Fox News defamation settlement — one of the largest defamation lawsuits settled in media history – also spit out Tucker Carlson with a whiplash announcement — he’s history too.

The role of the media is to help us discern the truth and stay informed. National cable television news has morphed into a format once dominated by talk radio. National networks still do traditional media stories. Unlike networks, cable television news never stops talking, but it has largely stopped informing.

None of these outcomes are really that shocking. People crawl into their favorite echo chambers to reaffirm their preferred realities. The talking heads are simply replaced with new faces, but the conversations are unlikely to change. We hear and see what we want to see, when we want to hear and see it.

The flip side is that a trusted brand of truth can provide independent validation when things become hotly contested, confusing or covered up. It can magnify and amplify America’s lively culture wars. It can bolster a brand or rebuke it – this Bud’s not for you? It can right a wrong. It can uncover a lie. It can melt your heart and bring you to tears. But trusted journalism requires a commitment to a code of conduct and engagement with trusted sources.

Good journalism moves past the he said/she said and shows us what they didn’t say.

A few years ago I was working as the lead media contact on a major campaign. I was baffled when a person who self-identified as a blogger requested official press credentials. Does having wi-fi mean everybody’s a reporter now?

It’s hard to see the old school editors & reporters retiring. They commanded their newsrooms with trusted rules of engagement. Will the next generation taking their seats, some right out of college now, be prepared for this unfiltered frontier?