They did anything to sell a headline - in the 20th century, ethical standards for media were better for a while, although of course they have always been susceptible to influence by the government as you mention (whether Iraq, Vietnam, or more justifiable wars).
Which, again, is worse than anything they've done recently.
In my experience outlets like the NYT do issue corrections - e.g. just over this weekend, they published a pretty questionable story about Judge Kavanaugh but then published a correction within a day when the article was challenged and compared to the book it was based on.
In comparison I’d be very, very surprised if VICE issued a correction for its lies about this reporting, which they boldly publish right alongside the documents debunking their faked quotes.
Certainly some organizations have better reputations than others, and I do trust the NYTs more than I trust Vice. My point in all of this is that when talking of some sort of golden age in journalism, one needs to keep in mind the severity of lies told in the past, as well as the relative opportunity the truth had to surface in different eras. Could the NYTs have suppressed knowledge of the Holodomor so effectively in the modern era when the wrong viral video from some random bystandard with a smartphone can circulate widely without the assistance or cooperation of organizations like the NYTs?
I mainly wanted to call attention to how online outlets are so focused on headlines and clicks they have even less incentive than the past to be truthful or curate a reputation for accuracy.
When your views depend not on a base of weekly subscribers or businesses advertising in the classifieds, but on how viral your story is and how many ad impressions it can get, the truth suffers even more than it used to.
Can information be suppressed as easily now? No, as you point out the primary sources of information are far more widely disseminated than they ever have been in the past (e.g. all the videos from both sides coming out of the Syrian civil war thanks to cell phones and YouTube). But if people are still trusting in secondary sources and don’t check the primary source when it’s available, that doesn’t help as much as it could.