Skip to comments.Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate
Posted on 09/14/2001 7:02:19 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
The framers of our Constitution gave carte blance protection to speech and the press. They did not grant that anyone was then in possession of complete and unalloyed truth, and it was impossible that they should be able to a priori institutionalize the truth of a future such human paragon even if she/he/it were to arrive.
At the time of the framing, the 1830s advent of mass marketing was in the distant future. Since that era, journalism has positioned itself as the embodiment of nonpartisan truth-telling, and used its enormous propaganda power to make the burden of proof of any bias essentially infinite. If somehow you nail them dead to rights in consistent tendentiousness, they will merely shrug and change the subject. And the press is protected by the First Amendment. That is where conservatives have always been stuck.
And make no mistake, conservatives are right to think that journalism is their opponent. Examples abound so that any conservative must scratch his/her head and ask Why? Why do those whose job it is to tell the truth tell it so tendentiously, and even lie? The answer is bound and gagged, and lying on your doorstep in plain sight. The money in the business of journalism is in entertainment, not truth. It is that imperative to entertain which produces the perspective of journalism.
And that journalism does indeed have a perspective is demonstrated every day in what it considers a good news story, and what is no news story at all. Part of that perspective is that news must be new--fresh today--as if the events of every new day were of equal importance with the events of all other days. So journalism is superficial. Journalism is negative as well, because the bad news is best suited to keep the audience from daring to ignore the news. Those two characteristics predominate in the perspective of journalism.
But how is that related to political bias? Since superficiality and negativity are anthema to conservatives there is inherent conflict between journalism and conservatism.. By contrast, and whatever pious intentions the journalist might have, political liberalism simply aligns itself with whatever journalism deems a good story. Journalists would have to work to create differences between journalism and liberalism, and simply lack any motive to do so. Indeed, the echo chamber of political liberalism aids the journalist--and since liberalism consistently exacerbates the issues it addresses, successful liberal politicians make plenty of bad news to report.
The First Amendment which protects the expression of opinion must also be understood to protect claims by people of infallibility--and to forbid claims of infallibility to be made by the government. What, after all, is the point of elections if the government is infallible? Clearly the free criticism of the government is at the heart of freedom of speech and press. Freedom, that is, of communication.
By formatting the bands and standardizing the bandwiths the government actually created broadcasting as we know it. The FCC regulates broadcasting--licensing a handful of priveledged people to broadcast at different frequency bands in particular locations. That is something not contemplated in the First Amendment, and which should never pass constitutional muster if applied to the literal press. Not only so, but the FCC requires application for renewal on the basis that a licensee broadcaster is operating in the public interest as a public trustee. That is a breathtaking departure from the First Amendment.
No one questions the political power of broadcasting; the broadcasters themselves obviously sell that viewpoint when they are taking money for political advertising. What does it mean, therefore, when the government (FCC) creates a political venue which transcends the literal press? And what does it mean when the government excludes you and me--and almost everyone else--from that venue in favor of a few priviledged licensees? And what does it mean when the government maintains the right to pull the license of anyone it does allow to participate in that venue? It means a government far outside its First Amendment limits. When it comes to broadcasting and the FCC, clearly the First Amendment has nothing to do with the case.
The problem of journalisms control of the venue of argument would be ameliorated if we could get them into court. In front of SCOTUS they would not be permitted to use their mighty megaphones. And to get to court all it takes is the filing of a civil suit. A lawsuit must be filed against broadcast journalism, naming not only the broadcast licensees, but the FCC.
We saw the tendency of broadcast journalism in the past election, when the delay in calling any given State for Bush was out of all proportion to the delay in calling a state for Gore, the margin of victory being similar--and, most notoriously, the state of Florida was wrongly called for Gore in time to suppress legal voting in the Central Time Zone portion of the state, to the detriment of Bush and very nearly turning the election. That was electioneering over the regulated airwaves on election day, quite on a par with the impact that illegal electioneering inside a polling place would have. It was an enormous tort.
And it is on that basis that someone should sue the socks off the FCC and all of broadcast journalism.
Journalism has a simbiotic relation with liberal Democrat politicians, journalists and liberal politicians are interchangable parts. Print journalism is only part of the press (which also includes books and magazines and, it should be argued, the internet), and broadcast journalism is no part of the press at all. Liberals never take issue with the perspective of journalism, so liberal politicians and journalists are interchangable parts. The FCC compromises my ability to compete in the marketplace of ideas by giving preferential access addresses to broadcasters, thus advantaging its licensees over me. And broadcast journalism, with the imprimatur of the government, casts a long shadow over elections. Its role in our political life is illegitimate.
The First Amendment, far from guaranteeing that journalism will be the truth, protects your right to speak and print your fallible opinion. Appeal to the First Amendment is appeal to the right to be, by the government or anyone elses lights, wrong. A claim of objectivity has nothing to do with the case; we all think our own opinions are right.
When the Constitution was written communication from one end of the country to the othe could take weeks. Our republic is designed to work admirably if most of the electorate is not up to date on every cause celebre. Leave aside traffic and weather, and broadcast journalism essentially never tells you anything that you need to know on a real-time basis.
(Thanks for the ping -- however, even before I did a self-search, as soon as I saw the title of this thread I stopped in...)
The points are all good. And there's so much more that could be said.
Most people have no idea what goes on even in Journalism 101. Kids, aspiring newhounds, are taught that "objectivity" is impossible. Kids are taught that rather than _trying_ to be objective, the reasonable thing to do is to choose a point-of-view and deal with it. (I heard a journalist on talk radio just yesterday discussing this point.)
Also, there are serious political problems with journalism in the modern world.
The Constitution provides means for impeaching an elected politician. But our culture provides NO MECHANISM AT ALL for removing journalists who prove themselve to be scum.
(The media is controlled by businessmen and businesswomen -- (you know, the exact same way the libertarians what _ALL_ culture to be configured) and as far as the business folk are concerned, if a journalist is fulfilling _some_ purpose -- advocating an agenda, gathering info, implementing leverage -- then that journalist is going to stay around regardless of how many people hate him or her. Heck, in demographic talk, _hate_ is a _good thing_ because it translates into high "Q"...)
Remember, it was Frank Zappa who wrote the couplet: "Journalism's kind of scary/And of it we should be wary" Mark W.
That is where conservatives have long been stuck, but when you consider that journalism is provably not unbiased, under the Constitution the FCC does not have the right to allow the broadcasting of journalism. The FCC and its licensees can be sued and forced by SCotUS to desist (provided that the Administration will enforce SCotUS's ruling, something I wouldn't bet a nickel on had Gore been named president as SCoFl attempted to assure.
I am proposing a way that our society actually could and should impeach broadcast journalism en masse.
So true. TV journalism is entertainment, not truth. It was not until the Internet that I had any inkling of what the truth was. God bless America, the Internet and FreeRepublic.com.
You don't literally have to, it's true. But the demagogery of broadcast journalism, in and of itself, constitutes the sort of bad news which constrains people to watch in horrified fascination.
I've got news for you, man: "aspiring newshounds" aren't taught that "objectivity" is impossible---they know it already. This is so obvious I'm surprised you made the statement. If 100 people witnessed the exact same car crash, you'd get 100 stories about it that were completely different. The facts may be roughly the same, but each take would be different. That's the angle. Angle = objectivity.
Absolute objectivity is absolutely impossible, and even it it were possible, it would make for an incredibly boring, milquetoast piece that wasn't worth writing, reading, taping, or broadcasting. Objectivity is the angle, the passion, that each writer or broadcaster brings to his subject. News coverage is flat and meaningless without objectivity.
The mistake you make is to assume that objectivity is possible or even desirable. Every newspaper, radio station, or television station has a voice. Up until very recently, this was a given: Democrats read one paper, Republicans another, and each paper's readership was well aware of its particular slant. The same holds true today, only that in a move to increase market share, news outlets bill themselves as "objective" news sources when they're not. They're lying to your face. I'll say it again---there's no such thing as an objective news source---there never was one, nor should there ever be one. You're a sucker if you think there is. It's your mission as a consumer to filter the objectivity and get the real news. You can read more than one paper or watch more than one news program.
The problem today is that most people who make the editorial decisions and do the hiring in major media outlets are leftists---the '60s relics and their ideological children, and that's no rhetorical bullshit (I've seen it first-hand). They only hire people like themselves. Writers, reporters, etc. with political views right of socialist have very little opportunity for employment, let alone for getting their "objective" takes read or heard.
I'm one class away from earning an MA in journalism at a Massachusetts university. I know all about J-school.
Wholeheartedly agree with your whole reply. I would question the timing of the switch from frank opinion to faux objectivity; it seems to trace back to the 1830s when first the high speed press created the opportunity to mass-market. The editorial page serves the function of "positioning" the rest of the paper as being objective. Before high-speed printing, the editorial page was pretty much the whole paper, in my belief.
Tell me something I don't know.
I've made this analogy before, so this will be the condensed version:
Imagine you are a Native American 150 years ago. Imagine you complain to your tribe that the locomotives are making it possible for the Europeans to spread _their_ civilization west and _replace_ your civilization. And imagine one of your own tribe said, "Hey, buddy, if you don't like trains, just don't buy tickets and don't ride on them..."
Do you see my point? We can all choose to "not watch" -- journalists or the media in general. But we _know_ that the vast majority of people are going to be watching this garbage and it will be influencing their thinking/actions. Just as locomotives were the enabling technology (one of them) that made it possible for Europeans to replace the Indians, now media is the enabling technology (one of them) that is making it possible for our civilization to be replaced.
Problems don't go away just because we close our eyes. (I wish they did, but they don't.) Mark W.
Yeah right. As if that were ever the case.
As for my own hometown paper (the Boston Globe), the blame lies at Tom Winship's feet.
Are they so stupid that they think they will be removed from this?
They think they are immune...I don't think so.
Idiot? My God, buddy---where the hell do you get off calling me an idiot? What the hell did I ever do to you?
The rest of your post indicates you have no clue whatsoever about the history of journalism in the United States, and are more interested in spewing personal attacks and your own retarded, uniformed filth than discussing the real issue at hand. What an ignorant clown you are.
How does it feel?! Now you know exactly how most of America feels when journalists "...are more interested in spewing personal attacks and your own retarded, uniformed filth than discussing the real issue at hand."
Real issue at hand?! My. That would take an objective assessment of the situation. But _you_ don't believe objective assessments exist, and _you_ believe they would be _bad_ things if they did...
Thank you, contemporary stupid young person. This exchange is the first thing that's made me smile in a long time. Have a good career. Mark W.
Listen, pal: an objective assessment of the situation would require you to know one thing about the history of journalism in order to discuss it with any sort of authenticity. Even the most jack-booted-thug of an opinionated journalist has "facts" to back up his case. You have none, not a scrap: discussing journalism with you is like trying to discuss World War II with a dimwit who thinks the Navy shoud've used jet planes to fend off the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.Thank you, contemporary stupid young person. This exchange is the first thing that's made me smile in a long time. Have a good career.
You yearn for the "good ol' days" when journalists were trained as "objective" observers. You may as well yearn for the good ol' days when money grew on trees and was free for the picking, you idiot.
William Randolph Hearst was not objective. Neither was Horace Greely. Neither was William Lloyd Garrison. Neither was Alfred Ochs. Neither was Isaiah Thomas. Neither was Joseph Pulitzer. Neither were the Taylors. But I don't expect you to recognize any of these names: these are the men behind American journalism. If you knew one shred about American journalism history, you'd know this.
American journalism was founded and fueled by men who passionately promoted their particular agenda. Papers that tried to be "objective," like the Boston Transcript, folded because they had no readers. They had no readers because they were boring. They were boring because their stories had no angle, no slant. You cannot be a human being---even a "highly trained journalist" in your goofy jargon---and approach a story without a slant. It is patently impossible. I could prove it to you if you'd like, but it'd take a million years to prove it to a person as friggen dense as you.
"Stupid young person." That is the sum total of your argument. How proud your mamma must be.
I've been on Free Republic for going on 5 years now, and I've never been tempted to hit the abuse button before now. You are the biggest jackass I've ever encountered on Free Republic. You are all wind, all bluster. I've never encountered a poster more ignorant on the subject he or she was pontificating about. What a douche.
When one looks at the point in time when journalism became unapologetically leftist, it would be around the time of the Vietnam War.
All of the young campus communists graduated from college, and took their leftist beliefs with them into middle age.
They found themselves in the position where they could take over most institutions in order to implement their cancerous agenda (they became the teachers, the journalists, etc., and found themselves in a position to inculcate the youth of America with their malignant ideas.)
Once they stole our children away from us, it was only a matter of perpetuating this cycle. In my opinion.
The skill of a good journalist, however, is that you do your best to hide your biases and focus on the truth, or at least your perception of the truth. The best journalists in American history did this, indeed, the best journalists in history always have.
Also - broadcast journalism is by and large a joke. It tends not to attract the same intellects and print. Pretty faces, vapid minds. People criticize Jennings because he has no college degree, but they're just news readers. The best of them have no sense of self importance and focus on communicating the news accurately. They're infinitely replaceable. Hopefully that's not your sequence . . .
Why you just might have a point here.
Only today I was accused of being boring; by someone I'd respected.
All because I'd attempted objectivity when stating an opin.
A derivative form of, "Let no good deed go unpunished"?
Now; how to get Hemmingway's Ghost & MarkWar on the same side.
What a dynamic team of freedom fighters those two would make if they got beyond personality, making a formidable opponent of media sycophant Leftists everywhere.
The curse of the Right is our individuality.
How I wish you were wrong; instead you are so very right.
Your analogy is spot-on. It is a keeper.
Here you and I greatly differ. My view is that commercially successful journalism has its own perspective--if you will, its own culture--just like every other profession. The culture of journalism is transmitted by such aphorisms (I really should look up the word to be sure it literally means "pithy dictums") as,
"If it bleeds, it leads."
"There's nothing more worthless than yesterday's newspaper."
No News is good news (because good news "isn't news")
I am saying that a certain perspective is ingrained in journalism, the neglect of which will cause your journalistic enterprise to fail to entertain--and, having failed to entertain, will fail to sustain itself as a business. And that is an--I believe the--explanation for the utter nonexistence of conservative journalism.
Conservative journalism cannot succeed economically; it cannot attract enough audience. In fact, if you are conservative you will not believe that whatever happened yesterday must perforce be as significant as what happened ten years ago. But if you write about what happened ten years ago it is not journalism but a nonfiction book. A book which, not having a trivially short deadline, will almost inevitably be far less superficial in its treatment of the subject than were even the best of contemporaneous journalistic accounts of the event.
In a sense that is exactly what I was thinking of last night . . .
Journalism, and especially broadcast journalism, indiscriminantly and harmfully uses a language of hype. The word "terrorism" is a horrible example. These people sit around casually telling the people of the world that the ruthless criminal conspiracy has caused "terror" in America. It momentarily created terror locally, but for most of America--and after the shock, all of America--the word "terror" does not apply and its use is detrimental to our vital foreign policy interests.
They (meaning broadcast journalism) do indeed think they are immune from accountability to the U.S. government--that their "loose lips" can with entire impunity "sink ships". IMHO the morale of America would skyrocket, and that of its foes would plummet, if the president took command of that aspect of broadcast journalism. If he and the Attorney General redefined the attack as the ruthless criminal conspiracy that it was
On pain of going off the air, at least temporarily. As I noted above, even now the First Amendment actually has nothing at all to do with broadcasting as we have always known it . . .
. . . but if so, how did it happen so quickly? IMHO it was an accomplished fact long before then.
In the Vietnam era, journalists loved to quote students who prattled about "the Establishment" which controlled America instead of the people. But back in 1953 when Eisenhower was forming his cabinet there was a revealing (in historical retrospect) incident.
General Motors executive Charles Wilson was nominated to be SecDef and, in those more innocent times, he was within his legal rights to expect to be confirmed and to serve without first disposing of huge holding of GM stock. But at his confirmation hearing he was asked if that were not a conflict of interest between his interests as a GM shareholder and the nation's interest. He replied, "What is good for the country is good for General Motors."
Journalism modified the quote to read, "What is good for General Motors is good for the country," and make a huge ruckus over it. Wilson ultimately was confirmed, as I recall, but the incident was quite a big deal. And I suppose that our present draconian conflict-of-interest rules may ultimately trace back to it.
In historical retrospect it can be seen that tho the two formulations do not mean exactly the same thing, they do have the same subtext. The implication of the actual statement, and the naked meaning of the journalist-distorted one, is that General Motors was part of an illicit American Establishment. By modifying the statement and making a huge bruhaha over what Wilson had actually said, journalism revealed its true nature. What we saw then, all unknowingly, was the actual Establishment slapping down a pretender to the status of member of the Establishment.
Which is after all exactly what journalism did during Vietnam and, IMHO, ever more nakedly in defense of the Clinton Administration. And that Establishment is furious over the defeat (over its own strongest efforts) of Gore and determined to tarnish, nay damage, Mr Bush.
My thesis is that the affectation of objectivity by journalism is, in and of itself, corruption leading directly to the tendentious mess that we all understand for the bitter joke it is.
Perhaps my statement may seem overly simplistic, but I hope I have clarified my intent.
HG, you can clearly see that I agree with the heart of your position. From that basis of mutual agreement I fully understand the temptation to type that--but respectfully disagree with your decision to hit the post button afterward.
None of us, I daresay, was born knowing that the affectation of objectivity turns the spirit of the First Amendment on its head. It is precisely because we ourselves had to transcend the position against which we are arguing that we know how hard it can be to see the truth. I might myself have sounded like MW, twenty five years ago. I was conservative then, s/he is conservative now--but in neither case is/was there understanding of the extent to which our thinking is/was distorted by the stupendous propaganda barrage to which journalism has subjected us for our entire lifetimes.
There is a saying,
MW derided your youth; I am (quite possibly) again as much older than MW. Patience.
We may want to put some thoughts to "enlighten" those that don't read properly.
[shrugs] We differ, but -- in cases like this -- diversity doesn't hurt.
Actually, we agree on some points even with our differences. The notion that journalism has its own perspective is certainly true, but incomplete. Journalism has dozens of perspectives. The culture of journalism -- even if we limit the discussion to US journalism -- is incredibly wide. It's not a monolithic culture at all. That's why college kids who think that "yellow" journalism is _representative_ of journalism overall are so goofy. (And that's why teachers who pick and choose examples from very visible manifestations of one particular type of journalism and pass those examples off as representative of journalism _overall_ are misleading students -- but, to be fair, any student who doesn't recognize that many academics have a cultural/political bias is going to have trouble sooner or later anyway.)
The *best* discussion of modern media and bias -- both cultural and the inherent-in-the-medium type of bias -- is found in a great book written by a former advertising wizard who dropped out of the Establishment. It's called, "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television," by Jerry Mander.
It's great stuff, as detailed as can be, and about as inclusive as can be. (It's written specifically about TV, but the principles he discusses are applicable to any medium.)
If you haven't yet read the book, I really envy you -- I still remember how wonderful it was to get into it and just kick back. It's thick, but really fun to read. Mark W.
Really? Thank you for informing me--what an honor! If people from there are being directed to read this thread, they may perchance actually learn something about the First Amendment. It therefore seems germane to paste in a copy of that much-honored--all too often in the breach--stricture:
Notice if you will, dear reader, that the terms "objectivity" and "truth" appear nowhere in the First Amendment (nor, I warrant, anywhere else in the Constitution). The Constitution forbids the government to assure that speech and the press contain only the truth. That means that the First Amendment protects your opinion from government censorship. It also--and this is a difficult concept for liberals to grasp--protects my opinion from government censorship even if my opinion is not "liberal". Not only so, but the same goes for members of the Flat Earth Society with whom both you and I disagree.
That is the only logical position for the Constitution of our democratic republic to take; if the government were actually able to promulgate only truth and to stamp out error and error only, what point would there be to having elections in which people who might be wrong could overturn the existing perfect government? Yet we-the-people allow the government--in the form of the FCC--to tell us which of our countrymen speak over the government-created airwaves "in the public interest." If the First Amendment is truly properly understood to allow that, why is it also properly understood to forbid the government to make that same decision about newspapers or books?
One or the other of those two understandings is deeply flawed. I say it is the former.
I also say that, however competitive various journalists may be among themselves, they have a remarkable amount in common among themselves as well. And that what they have in common with each other they also, by and large, have in common with liberal politicians and not with conservatives. And if liberal politicians eschew the adoption of policy preferences which diverge significantly from journalistic concensus, any claim of journalists in general to be independent of liberal politicans is moot.
I'll look into that one, thanks!
To the extent the journalistic concensus exists to some extent because of external reality conservatives have no need to oppose it--but then, liberal politicians are not about to, either. In such case no controversy exists and journalism would drop the issue from disinterest.
If one blind man touches the elephant's trunk and perceives a snake and another blind man feels the elephant's leg and perceives a tree, their courage to disagree ultimately allows someone to listen to the various reports and infer the elephant itself--the truth, at least approximately. But what if the second blind man--and the third--hearing the first report, each trims his report to avoid contradiction for fear of seeming "biased"? How long will we then "know objectively" that the creature is a snake??
And if a politician knows that you believe the snake hypothesis, is there not political profit in proposing a snake control program whether he himself believes it or not? And will not the blind men and the politicians then make common cause against the person who scents peanut breath and somehow ferrets out the truth?
"Liberalism" is a combination of cowardice and duplicity. It is the ideology of the feckless--the preference for group solidarity over truth. And it calls itself "objectivity."
Well, my comments go back to what I said about journalism not being a monolithic culture. My view is even more extreme -- I'd say there are actually many _cultures_ of journalism.
I think you're right, in regards to some of them. There are expedient and exploitative scum right there in the very open at the very top of the journalism world -- in some parts of it. (And you're also right about the bias of the various media used to _implement_ journalism in the contemporary world. There are cultural biases that make conservative journalism next to impossible, and there are explicit technical bias built into all the different media -- different media, different technical biases. In many cases, these technical biases make conservative journalism difficult.
In the "mainstream" the situation is hopeless. But if a person "shops around" and knows what he's looking for, he can usually find what he wants in terms of objective info. Mark W.
I hear you saying, and I think I agree, that pieces of the truth--big pieces of the truth even--reside in things like advertisements which are more truth than poetry. Other pieces of truth, perhaps, in dogs that don't bark. But you have to know where to look, and who it is sensible to believe about what.
But the "mainstream"--the quasi-official propaganda organs which we are practically ordered to believe--is hopeless. And they are the "trains" of your parable . . .
I once saw a nature documentary ("Acorn the Nature Nut," with John Acorn) which devoted a half hour to discussing the differences between lizards, salamanders and newts. After discussing the technical differences, Acorn observed that, in the field, when you actually start observing real animals, most people have no troubles telling the three kinds of animals apart (well, two kind -- newts are a sub-type of salamander).
I think modern media is kind of like a couple dozen different kind of lizards, salamanders and newts... Differences that may seem hard to spot in theory are easier to spot in real life.
My impression of media these days is that although it may seem hard to keep track of biases and misdirection and exploitation etc., once you start attempting to keep track of such things, it gets easier. (That book "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" in fact provides tips for becoming aware of manipulation techniques, things to practice watching for and such.)
I've thought of a fairly non-controversial example of two bits of modern journalism which I think make my point about different cultures within journalism, about how bias can exist, and how a journalist can aspire to objectivity. Lurkers in the thread can read for themselves if they're interested in this stuff, to see the difference. Both of these books are written by experienced reporters (each has spent more than 15 years doing journalism). Oddly, one is a European living in America, and the other is an American who lives in Europe.
The book "Short Circuit," by Michael Mewshaw is an entertaining and very detailed view of a year on the pro tennis circuit. Mewshaw attends lots of events -- many with press credentials, one or two without), and he speaks to lots of insiders and paints a very vivid picture of what happens on court and off. This book, however, has a very heavy bias. The reporter believes that the businessmen running tennis are mostly low-rent people. Toward the end of the tour, the people running the game _pull_ his press credentials and he doesn't hesitate to indulge in some name calling and unflattering personal evaluations. It's fun stuff, but clearly the writer has an agenda. (This is the American living in Europe.)
The book "The Courts of Babylon : Tales of Greed and Glory in a Harsh New World of Professional Tennis," by Peter Bodo has a much seemier title, but is written in an amazingly different style. Bodo also paints a detailed and vivid picture of the world of pro tennis based on meetings and interviews with insiders (he's a vertern reporter from "Tennis" magazine -- a European living in America). But he is amazingly even-handed in his approach to events and people. (Indeed, he devotes a chapter to Born Again Christians in tennis and, although he speaks of his own bias opening the chapter, his coverage of the topic is like a textbook example of how a person can recognize his own point-of-view, recognize that others have points-of-view, and do a great job of stepping back from all that subjectivity and create a great account which seems to be a reasonably objective and fair assessment of the overall reality of at hand.)
Sorry to go on at such length here, but I wanted to give specific example of objective vs. subjective journalism. Mark W.
Sorry to go on at such length here
--but how can you speak of apology when you have taken my discussion seriously, and given serious thought to my opinion, and your own? By no means! Mark, two things--first, that the tenor of your reply reminds me of--me. Do you have to edit and reedit to come out with a post that you can bear to reread after posting? I do. Second, it seems to me that you are pretty close to making my own point when you say that the writer who declares his own I have a thing about the use of the term "bias". Because ironically, I see it as journalism's favored critique. As long as you are speaking of "bias" you are playing on their home field--for they then can assume a posture of high dudgeon that you have the effrontery to accuse them of being unethical. Seeing that coming, I prefer to use the morally neutral term "perspective." They are after all entitled by the First Amendment to have a perspective--the actual legitimate beef against them is that, having a blatantly obvious perspective hiding in plain sight, they have the gall to claim to be "objective." And to sniff that, for example, "Rush Limbaugh is not a journalist." No, he's not--because he declares up front that he is conservative, and thus predictably will be closer to the truth than the "objective journalist" will be.
bias perspective up front is the one whose writing is less, rather than more, tendentious. The one who affects to have no perspective is the one who is insufferably self-righteous. And tendentious.
Mark, two things--first, that the tenor of your reply reminds me of--me. Do you have to edit and reedit to come out with a post that you can bear to reread after posting? I do.
Second, it seems to me that you are pretty close to making my own point when you say that the writer who declares his own
I have a thing about the use of the term "bias". Because ironically, I see it as journalism's favored critique. As long as you are speaking of "bias" you are playing on their home field--for they then can assume a posture of high dudgeon that you have the effrontery to accuse them of being unethical.
Seeing that coming, I prefer to use the morally neutral term "perspective." They are after all entitled by the First Amendment to have a perspective--the actual legitimate beef against them is that, having a blatantly obvious perspective hiding in plain sight, they have the gall to claim to be "objective." And to sniff that, for example, "Rush Limbaugh is not a journalist." No, he's not--because he declares up front that he is conservative, and thus predictably will be closer to the truth than the "objective journalist" will be.
On reflection the thing to understand about "liberals" who discuss the Constitution is that most of their references to it belong in quotes. Here is the present case, and my argument precisely on First Amendment grounds is critiqued as an attack on the "First Amendment."
But they do not mean the text as written but what they wish that text said--and what they arrogantly pretend that it does say. The liberal "First Amendment" says that Christianity should be viewed with suspicion by the government--not the other way around, as intended. The liberal "First Amendment" says that political parties' campaign activities can be subsidized for the purpose of controling them.
The liberal "First Amendment" says that a concensus of the powerful (i.e., "the establishment") determines truth--especially the WRT the lie that journalism is not the establishment.
If you listened to Mr. Gore talk about judicial nominees during the 2000 campaign, he promised to uphold the "Constitution"--his meaning, pretty explicity, was that liberals were not to be bound by any inconvenient strictures of the actual text of the Constitution.
However... who in their right mind can regard the current gaggle of blow dried air head news readers as "journalists"??? They collectively wouldn't know a true journalist if one came up and socked them in the nose and bit them on the a$$!! These people are teleprompter readers, nothing more. I admit, that requires a specific talent, but they can be no more considered "journalists" than can the food demonstrator at the local Safeway. In fact, I surmise that the food demonstrators at Safeway, when viewed by "objective standards", probably has more moral and ethical qualities than said "news readers".
While I can wholeheartedly agree that nobody can be "objective"- we are all influenced by our life's experiences- the skill of imparting the facts of a given situation minus the subjective trappings of same is something that can be learned, taught and probably quantified.
I am reminded of the "judges" in Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land, who were trained to set aside "subjective" biases and to base their work only on "objective" observations and facts. True Journalists would strive to be able to describe situations factually, without their own or other subjective biases coloring their work. Editorial commentary would have none of those restrictions, nor should it.
I have many times in the past called one of the local teevee stations, "our National Enquirer affiliate". Listen to their "news" anchors, and you can literally see the words jumping out of the front page of the National Enquirer/Globe/Star/World News editions. They choose the most emotionally charged words and phrases to describe a situation, then cut to a self serving commercial for their news casts calling them "the most trusted". Hah! Most sensational, most emotional, most biased, yes. Most trusted- not by anyone with an IQ greater than their hat size! And these people call themselves "journalists". Yeah, right.
I recently did a movie production, and for my "cameo", I played one of those teevee-teehee "reporters" from one of the local snooze stations. I wrote the "report" as strongly biased, over-the-top, sleazy newstype as I could to attempt to create as strong a parody as I could, and when I saw the finished tape, it was so tame that it couldn't hold a candle to the real snooze guys on the teevee than evening. Just shows to go ya that you have to work hard to get to be in-credible. And these guys do it daily, and make it look easy! Sheesh!
The "news business" has become exactly that- business. If it bleeds, it leads, ad nauseam. And teevee snooze business has turned newspapers [and I use the term "news" papers very advisedly] into competitors for the biggest, bloodiest "if it bleeds it leads" business. Watch the White House "news" gaggle... I cannot believe that these sub-moron IQ idiots are even allowed to work for a business, let alone one that calls themselves "journalists". I honestly believe that any one of them that can watch their performances and questioning in those news conferences and actually believes that look like anything higher than a mental retard shouldn't be allow to walk around with a sharp pencil. And these are the people that then go back and "file a report" that will be read my thousands or millions of people as gospel. If that were me, I would be too ashamed to even write my report, let alone put my name on the by-line. I wouldn't want anyone to know how obviously screwed up I was.
I am sincerely glad that I didn't go to journalism school, from what I've seen of the results. I have run a small publishing company, which put out a weekly newspaper. Fortunately, we didn't consider ourselves "journalists", and so we were just a thorn in the side of the local politicos, because we published a lot of true things about the local corrupt government. The big local paper was in the pocket of the gubbmint, and no one else would say anything against the corrupt regime; then there was us. We had government employees from all levels (grunt levels, of course) bringing us letters, documents, memos, etc., showing the corruption. We double checked them and then printed them. Wow! Want to start feeling the pressure!! Just shine the spotlight of public attention on the cockroaches of the bureaucracy! Amazing!
Unfortunately, it was a labor of love and a full time job (and more) that was being done in addition to our real full time jobs, and circumstances led to its demise... although not from the political pressure. Looking back on it, I'd really, immodestly, have to say that we were 100 times more the "journalists" than any of the snooze-media airheads of today. But then again, there is that "lack of self-importance" that contributed to the journalism, not the ego that seems all encompassing in today's "news busybodies"
Have any of the older Freepers noticed the rather new technique of these so-called "journalists" of keeping the camera on an interview subject while they break down in tears, blubber incoherently, wail, moan, gnash teeth, or whatever is applicable to the "story" they are telling, and completely useless to the "objective" interview? I seem to remember when real "journalists" on teevee would never include long moments of tearful breakdowns by the interview subject or similar subjective pap. In fact, I'm sure that there were probably written guidelines or stylebooks which real journalists went by that prohibited such emotional crap in their pieces. Now, that is all you ever see. In fact they seem to pride themselves on just how much of a "Jerry Springer moment" they can include as many times as possible in a short snooze segment interview. This is exactly the kind of "sensationalizing" the "news" that we seem to be decrying. Good journalists wouldn't allow that stuff to creep into their reporting, because that's what they are doing is reporting. Not selling, not convincing, not proselytizing- reporting.
As soon as more people wake up to the fact that these enterprises are a business, not a Constitutionally protected enterprise, and that they are subject to economic pressures, we will start to see changes, viz., the Politically Incorrect/Bill Maher situation. Don't call, email, fax or Pony Express the newspaper or teevee station about their air-heads blatant liberal bias. They already know that and encourage it, and they ain't about to change unless there is an economic incentive to do so. Like one of Maher's ex-sponsors said: He has every right to say what he wants, but we have every right to put our advertising dollars where we want. Peter Jennings would be on a bus, train or plane back to Canada in a second if every business that had a commercial on any of his snooze shows were to receive cogent, coherent, non-ranting letters stating that the writer would no longer purchase their product if they continue to advertise on his show. Granted, there are millions of sheeple watching him, but very few will actually make the effort to put a coherent message down on paper, research the highest executive in charge, mail it with a "return receipt", and then follow up with either a response to their response or just a follow up later on, to let them know you are serious.
Sorry for the long rant, but this has been an enlightening discourse, with the exception of the posts by the "journalism" idiot previously identified- but then, again, maybe his liberal idiocy is part of what stimulated this dialogue. 8^)
Seems that our Founding Fathers had infinitely more wisdom and vision that we sometimes think:
"Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper."
--Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon, 1819
And for our young "journalist" who cited Mr. Pulitzer:
"An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it' can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself."
--Joseph Pulitzer, American newspaper publisher