Skip to comments.Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate
Posted on 09/14/2001 7:02:19 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
click here to read article
I like to think that, after almost six years, the replies on [this thread] are closing in on some reasonably satisfactory answers.I will try to get to the replies but I did read your article and I have to say it didnt jibe with my instincts. The journalism as entertainment angle. Right off, I asked myself after reading it, if I were to rate print, tv and talk radio in order of entertainment value, print media is the least entertaining yet the most liberal. How would you answer that?
I instantly grant that I do not find journalism to be nearly as entertaining now as I once did. My daughter was stunned to learn that I used to listen to News Radio -"You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world!"But of course, that is not what you actually get. My daughter was stunned to learn that I used to listen to that drivel because for almost all her life I she has seen me treat "The News" like an ad for a product I wouldn't buy on a bet.
But more directly on point, consider the "News" dictum, "'Man Bites Dog,' not 'Dog Bites Man.'" The journalist (and the "liberal," who by journalistic convention is merely someone who, having no higher principle, reliably goes along and gets along with journalists) will tell you that journalists "objectively" apply that rule in deciding what stories they will emphasize. But what is that rule about? Will it inform the journalist that there is a rabid dog biting people, and the public must be warned? Au contraire! What it does is tell the journalist that dogs do bite people fairly regularly - and a headline announcing just one more case of a common occurrence will not succeed in attracting the reader's attention.
Now, as noted above, it's possible that the public interest requires that the public be warned about the dog - but the public interest may not be what interests the public. Indeed I would go so far as to assert that that is the normal state of affairs - that, for example, stories about Anna Nicole Smith (may she rest in peace) actually convey next to nothing relevant to the public interest.
I will make my case even stronger. The interest of journalism is to interest and impress the public. But journalism doesn't do things, it only talks. Therefore journalism exists to promote talk above action. And the easiest way to do that is to second guess the people who do do things. That would include businessmen, and a proclivity to second guess businessmen certainly matches up with the "liberal" mindset. Indeed, socialism is simply the setting up of authorities over businessmen whose credential is that they are good at criticizing businessmen and that they have no experience in actually doing business. But the military and the police also do things, and guess what - the fact that the military and the police are sine qua non essentials to the government that "liberals" supposedly love does not protect them from merciless second guessing by journalists, and by "liberal" fellow travelers thereof.
Again, consider the journalism rule that "you always make your deadline." Deadline pressure ineluctably causes reporters and editors to put out stories which actually deserve further investigation, or which actually do not deserve the attention which the journalists give them. Deadline pressure is a tendency of journalism toward superficiality. And the deadline is nothing more or less than the show business dictum, "The show must go on." Entertainment.
Would you go around quoting Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite?No more than I would quote any media hack, Limbaugh included.
You begin to see the light!!!
You place yourself on a plane above all the "hacks." It is well to aspire to superior analysis of facts and logic - but IMHO arguing from the assumption of one's own superiority is precisely what is wrong with "liberalism"/"objective journalism." Indeed, the word "sophistry" derives from the Greek word for "wisdom," and it is a negative word precisely because the Sophists argued from the assumption that they were wise and their adversaries were not wise (which naturally annoyed their adversaries).
Theodore Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech is IMHO opposite:There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.I do see a difference between Rush and the "objective journalists," and it is precisely that (although he jokingly makes mock-heroic bombastic declamations to the contrary) Rush does not argue from the assumption that he is right. He undertakes to cite facts and logic to prove that he is right. The difference between Rush and an "objective journalist" is that Rush if philosophical (philo = "love of", "soph = "wisdom") in approach, and the very claim of journalists to objectivity marks them as sophists.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds . . .
. . . is the natural condition of a unified Big Journalism establishment. Journalism doesn't do anything, it only tries to attract attention and impress people with big talk. So naturally journalists will promote anyone who criticizes people who actually get things done. And the environmental movement is simply a reactionary criticism of the people who provide our SUVs and our gasoline. Hey, it's a lot easier than organizing efficient production of vehicles, or figuring out where there is oil . . .
"It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena - Theodore RooseveltThe (il)logical conclusion of promoting criticism of anyone who does anything essential is to put critics - people who have zero track record of getting anything done - in charge of the economy. It's called "socialism" and, oddly enough </sarcasm>, it doesn't result in efficient production of anything but criticism and scapegoating. >
The media mob (as Milhous has recently dubbed them) has appointed itself as the mouthpiece of these people. Their goal is to cheer on the efforts of the "leaders" to build a state completely controlled by the elite, and to put themselves into the position of speaking for their party (a la Pravda). Then they won't have to worry about profit or entertainment; they will have permanent jobs. Only the other day an article was posted on here where a journalism major posited that if newspapers could not survive as a business, why then it was the job of the government to support journalism all the same, out of your tax money.
Read the portion of the Gulag Archepelago where Solzenitzen talks about how the pre-Soviet media fawned over the leftist revolutionaries in jail, trumpeted their ideas and wailed about their conditions in prison. But Lenin turned on the media mob immediately after taking power, and their comrades buried their dead bodies in the northern island prison cemeteries where they had been shot like criminals. I suppose he had no reason to trust them, either. Presumably the same happened to the Chinese, Cuban, and Cambodian media as well.
It seems history isn't necessarily the strong suit of journalists, whether print or electronic.
Doesn't it strike you that journalists are precisely like lawyers in having no physical product, and no service other than criticizing the people (businessmen, policemen, and military) who get necessary things done? IMHO the question is not, "Why do journalists help 'liberals'?" The question is why we are surprised that journalists promote themselves by tearing down others, and why we are surprised when the people called 'liberals' do the same thing and, being useful to and simpatico with journalists, get helpful coverage from journalists (including positive labels such as 'progressive' and, yes, 'liberal').Their goal is to cheer on the efforts of the "leaders" to build a state completely controlled by the elite, and to put themselves into the position of speaking for their party (a la Pravda). Then they won't have to worry about profit or entertainment; they will have permanent jobs. Only the other day an article was posted on here where a journalism major posited that if newspapers could not survive as a business, why then it was the job of the government to support journalism all the same, out of your tax money.
There is no doubt at all that both 'objective journalists' and 'liberals' have identical mindsets, and differ only in that 'objective journalists' are employed as reporters/editors. And that McCain-Feingold - indeed, that all "Campaign Finance Reform" legislation, promotes journalism as a public good, and were pushed by journalists far more than by the general public. The FCC likewise has a history of promoting journalism as a public good, as evidence that a licensee is "broadcasting in the public interest as a public trustee." So there is absolutely no cause for surprise when a journalist proposes government subsidies for journalism - indeed, what are PBS and NPR newscasts if not government-subsidized journalism?
In that light, the "Fairness Doctrine" was regulation of broadcasting in the interests of 'objective journalism' - what could be more in the interests of "objective" journalists than suppressing Rush and the others who call them out for their tendentiousness? What could be more convenient for journalists than having the government prejudge all issues in favor of journalists by defining them as being "objective"?
I lately have become interested in the Associated Press as a transforming agent in American journalism. In the founding era, journalism was openly partisan; Hamilton and Jefferson sponsored papers in which to wage their partisan battles against each other. Now journalists think that a scandal. I, OTOH, think it a scandal that now journalism speaks with a single voice - and I wonder if the AP and the newswire is not the homogenizing force which made that transformation possible/inevitable?
Have you checked this out?
That was the data I was seeking. Fascinating. I have some letters between my gg-grandfather and his friend (who lived in Barbados) arguing the merits of the War (although both were opposed to slavery and thought the southern leadership mediocre at best). I’ll have to find them and read them again in light of this.
Great post! Thanks for the link!
Journalists are supposed to be objective, but they are heavily biased in favor of attracting attention and influence. In other words, journalists are all about building up their own PR power.
Republicans are supposed to favor everyone who wants not to be poor so much that they will actually work, and perhaps even think. But Republicans are biased in favor of getting good PR for themselves.
Democrats are supposed to favor the poor and the downtrodden. In other words, Democrats are ALL ABOUT getting good PR for themselves.
Beauty pageants are "football games" for gals.
You might think that guys would like them, but that's not the way it works; the contestants are competing not at stunning the guys but at impressing the judges (who will not be Joe Sixpack and will probably be women journalist/celebrity types) that they would stun Joe Sixpack if that was what they were trying to do.
And the interview part of the contest is the most extreme example of the difference. The interview is not an intellectual contest. To the contrary it is a Political Correctness contest. The challenge is to come up with the safest answer. If the question is about failure of teens to know something simple, the answer it is that "Class sizes are too big, and teachers aren't paid enough." The entire Democratic Party, and most importantly all journalists, will adopt you as their sweetheart. And therefore the judges will swoon.
. . . and make no mistake - by design, the televised "Great Debates" resemble nothing so much as beauty pageants. They are structured by and for journalists, and therefore are designed to pressure the "contestants" to express PC sentiments.
Which is, of course, a game at which a Democrat can always beat a Republican.Journalists are supposed to be objective, but they are heavily biased in favor of controlling the power of PR.
Republicans are supposed to help those who would rather work than be poor - but they are biased in favor of getting good PR.
Democrats are supposed to favor the poor and the downtrodden. In other words, they make sure to do nothing which would compromise their ability to get good PR.
I think the problem is more general than just "most who adhere to global warming." I think that the newswire - AP - functions as an oracle for liberals. If it's not "on the wire", goes the rationale, then it doesn't matter. My tagline puts it a little differently, but it comes to the same thing.
If you think what is not on the wire - at any given time, that would include
Journalists treat the wire, which has everything bad and everything abnormal - to the near-perfect exclusion of anything qualifying for our attention under Philipians 4:8 - as their Oracle. And then people wonder why journalists aren't conservative . . .
- the Bible.
- the whole of the Library of Congress, save only for the newspapers/news magazines (if it has those).
- everything that went as expected yesterday.Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true,think on these things. - Philipians 4:8 (KJV)
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
. . . raising the obvious question as to why anyone would take for granted that "the media" (sic) "is as fair as it pretends to be."Notice if you will, Gentle Reader, that "media" is a plural noun. Yet it is no accident that the above sentence treats "the media" as a singular entity. We are after all discussing journalism, not publishing/broadcasting "media" in general. Granted that the other entertainment genres ("other" used advisedly) predictably will conform to the topical nonfiction genre known as "journalism."So journalism is in a very real sense a singular entity with a singular interest - the promotion of journalism. In a usage which is so commonplace as to be scarcely noticed, journalism styles itself "the press" - as if under the First Amendment other genres of nonfiction and even of fiction were not part of "the press," and as if government-licensed broadcast journalism were.
My point is that although it consists of many nominally independent outlets (ABC News, The New York Times, etc) journalism is so homogeneous that it is proper to speak of "them" as a singular entity. Just as the famously competitive New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are part of "Major League Baseball" which promotes, and hires the umpires for, their contests. In a similar vein, journalism is all part of the Associated Press, and treats the newswire as their very own Oracle of Delphi.
Journalism has the motive and the opportunity to promote itself, and in some ways it does so openly - as with the self-hype of its various organs. But the main way journalism promotes journalism as such, independent of any particular organ, is in the basic rules which all the various organs adhere to. Famously, "If it bleeds, it leads," "'Man Bites Dog' not 'Dog Bites Man'," and "Always make your deadline." And less openly, "Thou shalt not question the objectivity of a fellow journalist." The rules of journalism promote the public image of journalism as "objective" but they do not in fact promote objectivity itself. In fact, self-hype and self aggrandizement are the very definition of subjectivity, not related to objectivity at all. "Objective journalism" is shameless in its self-promotion.
What effect would that have on politics? Quite simply, if you want good PR - and what kind of a politician would not? - then you have to get it from what is effectively a PR monopoly. And the temptation to trim your belief in what constitutes the public good to suit that monopoly is omnipresent. So the obvious question is, "Who panders to the PR establishment the most?" And the answer, just as obvious, is,
Not only are Democrats indisputably the ones who pander most for PR, they generally have no other principle but to go for PR.
- "Who gets the best PR for the worst objective performance?"
- "Who gets credit for being for the little guy no matter how predominantly wealthy they are, while their opponents are criticized for favoring the rich?"
- "Who can openly flout convention, when their opponents are pilloried mercilessly if they are even in morally ambiguous circumstances?"
- "Who can flip-flop on significant issues and be credited with 'good intentions' while their opponents get second guessed even when they are steadfast in their positions?"
People, emphatically including Rush Limbaugh, rant about the lack of courage of conservatives to confront liberals. But the problem is not merely lack of courage so much as it is lack of understanding of the real source of the strength of "liberalism."
The source of the strength of liberalism resides, essentially exclusively, in the acceptance by the people of the assumption that journalism is objective. That assumption is baseless. In the founding era, newspapers were openly partisan. They also tended to localism, since they had no independent means of obtaining regional and national and international news. But think of what it meant that the papers were openly partisan. Jefferson and Hamilton each sponsored a newspaper to support their own policies and trash the other's policies. There really was little to choose between those newspapers and party propaganda organs.
Fast forward to the era of the penny press and the telegraph, and newspapers had different market conditions. They had the technology to acquire news from the nation and indeed the world, and they - and their competitors - had high-speed presses with a large bandwidth to sell. But no individual newspaper could afford to operate a national and international news gathering and distribution operation - so they joined forces in the Associated Press.
The AP obviously had enormous clout in its ability to talk to the entire nation. So it had to protest its objectivity, and affect to be objective. And from that acorn the mighty oak tree of "journalistic objectivity" has sprung. Not from any rational reason why it should be believed, but merely from raw propaganda power of men desperate to promote it. And a public faced with the novelty of the situation, which wanted to believe it could buy "the world" of "what was going on" for a penny.
All the propaganda can be countered with a few simple points:
The first quotation makes the point that the claim of "journalistic objectivity" certainly requires proof.
- The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity,
and they very seldom teach it enough. - Adam Smith
- Half the truth is often a great lie. - Benjamin Franklinand,
- "It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena - Theodore Roosevelt
The second quotation makes the point that such proof would have to demonstrate not merely that journalistic reports were consistently true, but that they constituted a full telling of the truth.
And the third quotation makes the point that the portion of the truth which journalism in fact elects to tell emphasizes the failings of people upon whom the public relies to get things done. And that, in criticizing and second guessing the corporations, the military, and the police, journalism "objectively" promotes the governmentism which it pleases so-called "objective journalism" to call "liberalism" or "progressivism" - and that "liberalism" or "progressivism" opposes both liberty and progress.
Gentle Reader, reflect on that for a moment. Here is journalism at its most characteristic: The New York Times is systematically turning a blind eye toward books which most reflect American culture.
Why do they do that? Because journalism specializes in superficiality. People who don't want to emphasize the superficial and downplay the classic, do not want to spend their lives as journalists.
To: Amerigomag; conservatism_IS_compassionExcellent post, Milhous (
FEC ruling shoves Old Media & Bi-partisan elites back in their place by affirming the people's own 1st Amendment right to freedom of the press
Everything you learned in school about freedom of the press was wrong. The American nation has swallowed the un-American notion that the First Amendment's call for freedom of the press actually granted special rights to a special group of people called "the press." How could that possibly be, given that the country was founded on the belief that there were no "special" people and everyone had the same rights? Moreover, the First Amendment was written at a time when there were no journalists as we think of them now - a time when newspapers were produced mostly in one-man shops by "printers" (not "reporters," "journalists," "columnists," or "editors"), 30 years before the country even had its first full-time reporter.
The truth is that just as in its preceding phrase, the 1st Amendment granted us all freedom of speech so that we could say what was on our minds, in its correct reading we are also granted "free use of the printing press" so that we can publish what is on our minds. In a letter to Noah Webster, Jefferson referred to this vital need for "free presses," a usage that makes it clear he was talking about machines and not special people.
And yet, out of either ignorance or malice, Old Media and elites on both sides of the aisle supported the indefensible McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill - a bill which increased their free speech and press rights at the expense of everyone else by banning all broadcast political advocacy advertising mentioning candidates' names within 60 days of a federal election. Thankfully, they were just dealt a crushing blow-back when the FEC affirmed lefty blog DailyKos.com's right to political advocacy, establishing that every blog can say whatever it wants during that crucial 60-day period (see Mary Katharine Ham). In other words, all men are created equal and have the same inalienable rights. Bloggers and journalists, same rights. It's an idea that ought to seem more self-evident than revolutionary.
Half the truth is often a great lie. - Benjamin FranklinIOW, truth is necessary but not sufficient to prove lack of bias. The conceit that we are under some sort of obligation to believe the AP is completely without foundation. And as for the conceit that the AP is not only the truth but the whole truth . . . The truly rational response to that is,The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .This whole "objective journalism" shtick is a product of the Associated Press news monopoly which is a result of the telegraph as an instantaneous transmission system with a low bandwidth (Sound familiar? Broadcasting censorship by the FCC is justified on the basis of "scarcity of bandwidth").
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity,
and they very seldom teach it enough. - Adam Smith
The AP was so obviously a monopoly that it needed a cover story, and that story was that the AP was objective.
"Isn't there time to give Hitler a break? Was everything he did evil? I mean, he really loved dogs, and he wanted his country to be rich and strong . . ." </sarcasm>The issue is not that "the media" do nothing at all right, the issue is that even when their reports are accurate they can and do mislead. After all,Half the truth is often a great lie. - Benjamin FranklinThat being the case, merely proving that their reports are mostly not totally inaccurate (tho I have the distinct impression that the closer you are to a story, the less impressed you will be by the newspaper's telling of it) is not enough. You have to consider the portion of the truth which Big Journalism does not tell.
If you saw a disembodied text on your computer screen with no identification of its source, how hard would it be to tell if it was from a newspaper or if it was from an encyclopedia? Not very. How would you know it was from a newspaper? First because the topic would be very current, and some of the facts of the story wouldn't be in yet; you don't know fully how things come out "in the end." Secondly, the story would more likely to be sensational and overblown, and much less likely to be of enduring significance. Lastly, the implication of the story is much more likely to be that the people who took action - and who thereby took the risk that they were doing less that a perfect job - should have done better.
The bottom line is that journalists promote journalism by second guessing people who get things done instead of only criticizing success. It is irrational to suppose that journalists are objective; the opposite of objective would be subjective, and subjective means to be unaware of how your own interests color your opinions. And that is exactly how journalists behave when they claim objectivity while adhering to rules of best practice which are designed to interest the public for the good of his employer and not to promote the public interest.
Journalists promote themselves and they promote everyone else who promotes second guessing over action. Their pecking order puts themselves and other journalists at the top (as being "objective"), and places people with the same attitudes as journalists on the next rung down with positive labels such as "liberal" and "progressive." A "liberal" George Stephanopolis became an "objective" reporter by the mere changing of jobs from operative for Clinton Administration. And Walter Cronkite went from "objective" journalist to "liberal" analyst simply by going the other way, without the slightest change in the underlying philosophy of either man. And on the bottom of their pecking order, of course, is the "right wing" "conservative" "Cold Warrior" (the last of those denigrating labels, of course, abruptly went out of fashion with the collapse of the Soviet Union).
So by all means let's cut journalism some slack, and I hereby do: their overall accuracy is no worse on average than that of a stopped clock.
I often wonder if there wouldn't be overwhelming positive changes if the "Fouth Estate" were required to be non-profit. (Churches serve many important functions, and yet must be non-profit.) The profit motive for the major news outlets is their greatest problem, so why not remove it? The zealous types will still be there, but the truth-bending sensationalism will mostly disappear. Seems like it might be worth a shot, anyway.
Actually the profit motive is not the sum total of the motivation for journalism. They are yielding to the temptation not only to make money instead of serving the public, they are yielding to the temptation of power. The power to elevate your own importance by denigrating everyone else. No, the only way to mitigate the pernicious influence of journalism is for the public to recognize the limitations of the genre. And to understand that if someone claims objectivity that is proof of their subjectivity.
This is just a symptom. The underlying reality is that Democrats protect their miscreants because they can, and Republicans do not because they cannot get away with it.
And what determines who can get away with what in politics? "Objective" journalism, of course. And why do "objective" journalists who go pedal-to-the-metal on any allegation of Republican soft-pedal allegations of Democratic malfeasance? Because the business of journalism is
That is why journalists call themselves and their colleagues "objective" with no basis in fact.
- promotion of those who support your own self-promotion, and
- demotion of the reputations of anyone else.
That is why journalists call others who promote criticism of the productive (but who don't have jobs in journalism) "liberal" or "progressive" (or whatever positive label they prefer).
And that is why journalists bushwhack and second guess businessmen, the military, and the police. And why journalists call anyone who thinks that"It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena - Theodore Roosevelt"partisan" or "conservative" or "right wing." With no basis in fact.
The newspaper deadline is simply a version of "The show must go on." And the editor's rules, "If it bleeds, it leads," and "Man Bites Dog, not 'Dog Bites Man'" are also entertainment rules having no justification in respect to public policy issues. In fact the best way I've found to summarize what journalism is is by reference to what it is not. And what it is not, is an encyclopedia or a bible. Nor even a nonfiction book.
And that is the way to characterize the perspective of journalism - in comparison to the things that journalism systematically avoids, journalism is superficial. And to claim superior objectivity when you are actually systematically and for self-interested reasons purposefully superficial is also to be arrogant.
Half the truth is often a great lie. - Benjamin FranklinConsequently, even proof that journalism was always accurate (snort!) would not constitute proof of objectivity.The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .The Contest For the Republican Presidential Nomination [Why Fred Thompson has a real chance to win] Rasmussen Reports ^ | September 19, 2007 | Douglas Schoen
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity,
and they very seldom teach it enough. - Adam Smith
self ping to read later
There isnt. I dont trust any journalist that claims to be unbiased. Its a lie, and that lie destroys their credibility. I would rather that the reporter be up front and honest with their point of view so I know the filter through which to read the story. Then I can seek out reports from other points of view, and between them Ill have a much more accurate picture of the real story.
Bias is not merely on how to report, but perhaps more importantly there is bias in ~what~ to report. For every newsworthy thing that gets reported, there are probably dozens of things that go unreported. Picking the most valuable is inescapably the product of the values and biases of the reporters and editors.
The profession of journalism could benifit greatly from a careful de-construction and analysis of the reporting on the war in Iraq. From the beginning, the poison was planted.
IMHO Woodward and Berstein badly damaged the practice of journalism. Now everybody wants to be them, and every story is watergate including the ones that arent and nobody seems to know the difference.
22 posted on 10/03/2007 12:28:44 AM EDT by Ramius
Excellent points, which are less related to Swordmaker's ping list than to this thread on what is conventionally called "bias in the media" but which I prefer to style "the perspective of journalism."
Back during the Carter Administration, I subscribed to the Accuracy in Media (AIM) Report. It documented journalistic bias, and was able to do so ad nauseum.
I learned that the bias exists - a fact which I am now almost astonished to learn that I ever didn't know - but quickly became bored by the interminable telling of examples of the self-same phenomenon. The question quickly became not is there "bias in the media" but why is there "bias in the media?" I allowed my AIM Report subscription to lapse, and have spent the succeeding generation of time analyzing the latter question.
Shortly after 9/11 I started this thread to document my findings. And I have continuously updated that thread ever since. The short answer to the question why is there "bias in the media" is a couple of other questions - "what is "the media," and why do people think it should not be "biased?"
"The media" is a generality to include journalism (topical nonfiction) and movies and TV shows (fiction). I stipulate that movies and TV shows do have socialist tendencies embedded in them, but IMHO it's ridiculous to call that "bias" because there is actually no even colorable argument that the writers of those entertainments have any obligation to avoid expressing their own viewpoint. What would be the point in fiction which had no POV?
So the burr under our saddle is not so much fiction as it is journalism. But there are local freebie newspapers today which don't feature news at all. They are mostly vehicles for local advertising, and their articles are not written to inform about distant matters but about what is happening in the county in which they operate. They are mostly weeklies. They operate on a human scale, and their operators are accessible. And that is the way all newspapers were in the founding era. Some of those newspapers did not even have deadlines at all; they were printed when the printer was good and ready.
So the founding era newspapers were far more accessible, far more humble affairs than the big-market papers we are accustomed to today. Hamilton and Jefferson sponsored competing newspapers in which to wage their partisan battles, and neither pretended to be anything but the opinion of human beings. Printers of newspapers generally didn't have access to news from Washington, New York, or Europe any faster than the local shopkeeper did.
The difference between Founding Era journalism and modern Big Journalism is "the wire." The difference is the telegraph and the Associated Press. That is what accounts for the homogeneous nature of modern journalism, and that is what accounts for journalism's self-proclaimed "objectivity." Journalism's self-proclaimed objectivity was developed to answer the concerns which naturally were aroused by the advent and aggressive expansion of the AP. Because the dangers of monopoly news reporting were patent when that AP reporting was transmitted via individually edited newspapers, no less so than when it is transmitted by government-licensed broadcasters.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the AP was able to monopolize the rapid and efficient transmission of journalism reports. Before the telegraph, that was utterly impossible; with the telegraph rapid transmission was possible but expensive, and efficiency was paramount. With the advent of the Internet, efficiency is no longer an issue; a blogger or FReeper anywhere in the world can report to the entire world at large.
So in logic, the AP is a dead man walking - a gatekeeper when the walls are down. It is taking time for the word to get out, and for habits of thought to change, but eventually the conceit that it is necessary to defer to the superior "objectivity" of someone just because they have access to "the wire" will be seen for the patent fraud that it always was. FreeRepublic is a "wire" unto itself, accessible to all, and willing to carry the reports of all who do not claim that journalism is objective, and are therefore evil (in the sight of the AP) "conservatives."
Bump for later reading.
"All restrictions on free speech are a bad idea and should be repealed."I'll take the First Amendment please.
I'll have the same - with the caveat that I want the government out of the business of promoting "objectivity" which is nothing more than promoting a self-serving concensus among journalists. And I want a civil suit, if not a RICO suit for triple damages, filed against the MSM for collusion in restraint of the trade in ideas.
Rather than naming a vague "Mainstream Media," I would name the Associated Press as defendant in that action. I will not say that I'm sorry it happened, but it is historical fact that the Lincoln Administration hindered rivals of the AP, and the AP self-censored to retain government support. So the AP was a tendentious organization within a dozen years of its 1848 founding.
You are a stone's throw from Durham, the site of the Michael Nifong crusade to keep his job long enough to get the maximum pension by railroading three Duke U. students into prison for a generation.
That is relevant to the issue of "ethical restrictions and the mainstream media" because I just finished reading the book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case by Stuart Taylor, KC Johnson. A major conclusion of which is that the coverage of the case by the MSM in general, and The New York Times in particular, was (and is) absolutely without ethical restraint.
To go by the MSM coverage you would think, according to Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, that Roy Cooper had found the Duke boys guilty rather than exonerating them.
I have a Mac, and links to Wikipedia are built into the OS. That's not likely to gull me into taking Wiki for gospel, but the serious point is that de facto Wiki is apparently a new member of the MSM. Things stated as fact that just ain't so, mixed into a credible-appearing framework.
I considered logging onto Conservapedia to help build it, but it just seemed a bit much and I never actually did anything with it. But certainly the singular important thing which should be done is to make a port to Wiki which would be designed as a filter and which would simply pass you on to Wiki on the mundane stuff, but would provide a "conservative" (we are, as F A Hayek pointed out, not actually conservative but true liberals) take on issues which Wiki treats as the MSM would. I would start with a discussion of the Associated Press, and the First Amendment.
But whereas I can discuss those topics at length on FR, that is a different thing from shoehorning my opinions into the encyclopedia format exemplified by Wikipedia. And I am not sure that that is an accident; it is entirely possible that a case can be made that that format, in and of itself, constrains the expression of opinion away from conservatism. Just as the nature of journalism inherently drives people who are conservative away from being reporters, and attracts liberals.
The Founders saw it as so painfully obvious that there was no need to write it into the Constitution.Like the right to privacy and the Publics Need To Know, I see.
FRiends, I suggest that this conversation be continued in this venue. If you peruse this thread I'm confident that the reason for your disagreement, such as it is, will be resolved.
Thomas Jefferson Wouldn't Think Much of Modern Journalism. Blogging - That's Another Story...
Pajamas Media ^ | November 21 2007 | Steve Boriss
For the top Democratic candidates, the difference was even more striking: Barack Obama received coverage that was 70 percent positive and 9 percent negative, and Hillary Clinton's was 61 percent positive and 13 percent negative. On the other hand, only 26 percent of the stories on Republican candidates were positive and 40 percent negative.
You can cite statistics like that until the cows come home, but it goes right over people's heads because we have all been brainwashed with the propaganda that journalism is objective - and people just don't see why journalism should be slanted, or why journalism should be all slanting the same way.
There are reasons, actually pretty simple reasons, why this is the case. First, "Why would the various newspapers and broadcast networks be unified?" The answer to that is that newspapers in the founding era were diverse, and they did not have efficient means of gathering news which the rest of the population did not hear first from other sources. That changed with "the wire" - the (1848) advent of the Associated Press. The AP succeeded in monopolizing the transmission of news by telegraph - and when its monopoly was questioned on the grounds that it produced a concentration of propaganda power, the AP sold the story that the AP was "objective."
The AP transformed the newspaper business into a true news business delivering information which was not otherwise available to the general public. But, all protestations of objectivity notwithstanding, the Associated Press has one inherent bias: that the news - simply because it is new and known first by the AP - is important. What if the news wasn't important?
The reality is that on a typical day you probably cannot remember anything in the newspaper from exactly 5 years ago. There is only so much going on that is actually important, and reported daily developments ordinarily are of no enduring significance. And that means that the Associated Press in general, and the journalistic outlets which it supplies in particular, are inherently superficial. They are also generally negative, because the most dramatic changes are typically negative changes - simply because it is more dramatic to realize that a house burned down in less than a day than it is to understand that the nation's building contractors finish new houses every day, too. But there is less drama in the completion of ten months-long house construction projects than there is in the surprise demolition of the fruits of one such project.
In addition, since journalism is simply talk, journalism has an inherent tendency to promote criticism at the expense of action - to denigrate and second guess the businessman, the policeman, and the soldier. And to puff up the teacher, the plaintiff lawyer, the union leader, and the second-guessing politician by assigning them the favorable label of "progressive."
This thread is linked in FReeper thulldud’s OUTSTANDING home page. A FReeper that wise deserves a ping, a thread this good deserves a BUMP!
I thank you both.
thulldud, have you seen The Market for Conservative-Based News, and
That is the continuation of Why Broadcast Journalism is Unnecessary and Illegitimate.
IMHO "The Right to Know" is a pretty strong case, and some others agree.
Actually, I hadn't. Found this article linked on some other thread, read it through once and couldn't let it pass without linking it meself. It struck the same chord that was sounded by the late, great Neil Postman of NYU, concerning the effect that journalism has on our picture of reality.
If TRTK is intended as a continuation, I guess I should link it also. (Although I note that Bernie Sanders was in the House, not the Senate. Meh. The point was well taken all the same.)
Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is the current junior United States Senator from Vermont. Sanders was elected on November 7, 2006 (Wikipedia)
Elected to Senate in 2006, replacing “Jumpin’ Jim.” I still got him mentally filed as a Representative. Update time.
“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.”
Here, I must insist on inserting a technical issue which mandates gooberment allocation of available frequencies.
Were such allocation not enforced, those frequencies would become a mere babble as all who wished broadcast as they wished in that most undesirable of ‘commons’.
Lest you think I am making a reductio ad absurdum argument, consider that the electronic joke called “Chicken Band”, A.K.A. CB Radio, has become in all too many areas.
Fortunately, radio and TV frequencies can now be split into many more bands, thanks to digital equipment.
And, most importantly, the Internet allows freedom of communication to any who wish to avail themselves of this medium.
When Americans learn to use the Internet, there will be “Truth & Accountability”, to use the favorite phrase of one Walter D. Pine. Between cell phone audio, photo, and video communication capabilities, all will have to regulate their own behavior.
Why? ‘Cause they no longer have the expectation of privacy. Not a problem for the “good” - a living H*ll for the “bad guy”.
Fortunately, radio and TV frequencies can now be split into many more bands, thanks to digital equipment
. . . and the issue is the extent to which the FCC wants to empower the public or whether, in fact, it is motivated by a desire to maximize the value of its licenses and thereby maximize the power inherent in its authority to grant or withhold a license. What I have read suggests that the latter bureaucratic imperative has always been the FCC's predominant motivation.
News organizations have a right to adopt whatever editorial positions they want, but NPR receives a chunk of its budget from the federal government, and more importantly wields the imprimatur of being an essential public resource, which anchors its other fundraising efforts.It is true of NPR, and it is true of all broadcast licensees.
All of broadcast journalism is illegitimate because journalism as we have always known it actually makes no substantive effort at objectivity. They put on a show of it, but in the real world the very first thing you must do to attempt objectivity is to declare up front all the reasons you know of that you might not be objective. Journalism does in fact have interests other than the public interest; it is only necessary to allude to the fact that bad news - such as a war, for example - makes "great copy" and is good for journalism. So the interests of journalism and the public interest are not inherently aligned.
Yet journalism as we know it consists of multiple outlets (including NPR, The New York Times, and so forth which are unified by their interest in the credulity of the public for all of journalism. Journalists do not compete on "objectivity," instead they are in full "go along and get along" mode. That is the natural result of their dependence on wire services as news sources; they all have the same sources and they all need the public to trust those sources.
It is worth pondering Adam Smith's perspective on that:Credulousness in the public is inimical to the public interest.The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing . . .
It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity,
and they very seldom teach it enough.
So journalism as such has interests different than the public interest - and yet no journalism outlet ever declares any reason why it might not be objective. To the contrary, all journalists claim that all journalists are objective - and that is the very opposite of declaring its interests. So journalism makes no effort to attempt actual objectivity, relying instead on journalism's unified propaganda power to prevent the public from actually thinking about the limits of the credibility of its information.
Remember that, Benjamin Franklin put it, "Half the truth is often a great lie." It is not necessary for a journalist to actually lie in order to mislead the public. There is no justice in having the government license, let alone own, broadcast journalism outlets. It is blatantly unconstitutional.
Note: this topic is from 9/14/2001. I posted in here about five years ago, at message 1002.
The behavior of journalism is explained by Adam Smith - partly in Wealth of Nations, and partly in Theory of Moral Sentiments. The applicable quote from the latter isThe natural disposition is always to believe. It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough. The wisest and most cautious of us all frequently gives credit to stories which he himself is afterwards both ashamed and astonished that he could possibly think of believing.That is the default assumption and perspective of the journalist, about the public at large. The public, journalists believe in their gut, is a bunch of boobs to be impressed and led by their betters. Namely, them:
The man whom we believe is necessarily, in the things concerning which we believe him, our leader and director, and we look up to him with a certain degree of esteem and respect.But as from admiring other people we come to wish to be admired ourselves; so from being led and directed by other people we learn to wish to become ourselves leaders and directors. - Adam Smith, Theory of Moral SentimentsJournalists employ rank sophistry to position themselves as our betters; they engage in Monday morning quarterbacking on a grand scale to insinuate that anyone other than the specialists in a field could do a better job than the specialists in that field, if only they were as well-intentioned as the journalist is. Nobody would trust their own liver to the ministrations of a journalist in the operating room, but the journalist seeks to promote his own reputation above that of the surgeon by claiming that doctors do unnecessary operations to pad their own wallets. And if that sounds like something a liberal politician such as Obama might say, well - in Karl Marxs formulation - that is no accident, comrades. Journalism, and socialism, is nothing but cheap talk (believing and acting on cheap talk is, however, very expensive).
Journalists use claims of their own (or, what is the same thing, each others) objectivity to precisely the same purpose and intent that the ancient Sophists used their claims of superior wisdom. If the Sophist is wise, or if the journalist is objective, the person who is not a Sophist or a journalist would seem to have no standing to question them. And appearances are what journalists are all about. In reality it is unwise for anyone to assume his own wisdom, and it is not objective of anyone to assume her own objectivity.People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (Book I, Ch 10)It is said that This problem, when solved, will be simple. And so it is with the question as to why modern journalists never engage in ideological competition, as journalists of earlier times notoriously did. The answer is the telegraph - the telegraph and the wire services, notably the AP. For the AP is nothing other than a virtual meeting of all the major journalism outlets in America.
Adam Smith is correct - a meeting of competitive journalists which has been in continuous operation since before the Civil War, and which is not about merriment or diversion but precisely about business, could not have failed to produce a conspiracy against the public. A conspiracy which is not content merely to systematically omit mention of certain salient facts, but which will actually lie in furtherance of its own interest and against the public interest.