The American public generally feels excluded from the political system and that's the fault, in part, of the news media, said William Greider, national editor of Rolling Stone magazine.

"Democracy . . . is in serious decay. And my accusation is the press, or more generally the media, are implicated in that decay," Greider said Friday, speaking to an audience of 750 people at an Investigative Reporters and Editors conference.People in this country often feel their views are dismissed or ignored as uninformed, lazy or dumb by others in the upper reaches of political debate, said Greider, author of the book "Who Will Tell the People: The Betrayal of American Democracy."

As reporters have become better educated and more sophisticated, journalism has largely abandoned formerly strong ties to the working class, he said.

Today the media gravitate toward people in power.

Journalists "are able to see the upper levels of esoteric government policymaking and argumentation in a way that ordinary folks do not," he said. "I think this has produced a gradual shift in the way newspapers look not just at government, but also at the people at large."

Greider said this shift contributes to public resentment against the media.

"People know, they could feel when they are being addressed in a condescending manner," Greider said. "And a lot of the American media addresses its own audience in what is essentially a condescending manner."

But he cited an example of journalism that avoided these pitfalls, a Philadelphia Inquirer series titled "America: What Went Wrong?" that he said explained the U.S. economy in a way meaningful to the average reader.

"Those stories, if you read them, speak with what I call a `representative voice,"' Greider said. "You can't read two paragraphs without understanding that they are speaking for people and they're speaking to power."

Understanding those articles doesn't require a college degree, he said. "You read those stories and you say, `These guys are in there for us.' "