Category Archives: Media Criticism

Gravitas

Katie Couric has a blog:

Add to that my first piece on 60 Minutes on the illnesses that thousands of first responders are experiencing five years after September 11th. To be a part of that broadcast was needless to say, an enormous thrill. My father called me afterwards and said,

Don’t Know Much About Statistics

Megan McArdle and Stuart Buck have an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner on the innumeracy, economic and otherwise, of many reporters:

…many conservative readers attributed the misleading figures to liberal media bias. But it is more likely ignorance than malice. Every year, scores of fledgling journalists pour out of liberal arts programs. Though many will need to pick through mountains of statistics in search of the truth, few have been taught the skills to do it.

They quickly become victims of advocacy groups pushing skewed statistics. Through ignorance, they may also start manufacturing their own flawed numbers. Since number-crunching beats (such as business and finance) are generally viewed as a tedious waystation en route to more interesting beats, few are enthusiastic about developing these skills. And their editors may not be in any position to help them.

The problem is compounded by the fact that journalists who do know how to read a balance sheet, run a regression, or analyze economic data, can generally get a job that pays a lot more than journalism. Some stay in the field out of love for their work (journalism is a really great job), but in our experience some of the best flee to greener pastures.

Don’t Know Much About Statistics

Megan McArdle and Stuart Buck have an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner on the innumeracy, economic and otherwise, of many reporters:

…many conservative readers attributed the misleading figures to liberal media bias. But it is more likely ignorance than malice. Every year, scores of fledgling journalists pour out of liberal arts programs. Though many will need to pick through mountains of statistics in search of the truth, few have been taught the skills to do it.

They quickly become victims of advocacy groups pushing skewed statistics. Through ignorance, they may also start manufacturing their own flawed numbers. Since number-crunching beats (such as business and finance) are generally viewed as a tedious waystation en route to more interesting beats, few are enthusiastic about developing these skills. And their editors may not be in any position to help them.

The problem is compounded by the fact that journalists who do know how to read a balance sheet, run a regression, or analyze economic data, can generally get a job that pays a lot more than journalism. Some stay in the field out of love for their work (journalism is a really great job), but in our experience some of the best flee to greener pastures.

Don’t Know Much About Statistics

Megan McArdle and Stuart Buck have an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner on the innumeracy, economic and otherwise, of many reporters:

…many conservative readers attributed the misleading figures to liberal media bias. But it is more likely ignorance than malice. Every year, scores of fledgling journalists pour out of liberal arts programs. Though many will need to pick through mountains of statistics in search of the truth, few have been taught the skills to do it.

They quickly become victims of advocacy groups pushing skewed statistics. Through ignorance, they may also start manufacturing their own flawed numbers. Since number-crunching beats (such as business and finance) are generally viewed as a tedious waystation en route to more interesting beats, few are enthusiastic about developing these skills. And their editors may not be in any position to help them.

The problem is compounded by the fact that journalists who do know how to read a balance sheet, run a regression, or analyze economic data, can generally get a job that pays a lot more than journalism. Some stay in the field out of love for their work (journalism is a really great job), but in our experience some of the best flee to greener pastures.

Criminal Negligence

A long interview with a contractor in Iraq on the misreporting and malreporting of that country:

For all the complexities and risks associated with our work, (I carried two calculators, satellite and computer equipment, and a ridiculously heavy AKSU-74 submachine gun around with me most of the time) it was impossible for us to miss seeing what coalition and Iraqi forces were dealing with. Let me please emphasize that. If we simply woke up in the morning, walked outside and did our jobs, it was completely impossible to miss the profound efforts and accomplishments of coalition and Iraqi forces in securing and rebuilding the national infrastructure.

But it wasn’t impossible for the western press to miss. In fact, as I think about it, it’s quite possible they’ve actually missed the whole war. Unless reporting can be described as burying oneself in a few relatively safe places with others of one’s own kind, they have missed far more than they have covered. It is difficult for myself and many others to have respect for western journalists in Iraq because they so very rarely committed themselves to actually going out and covering what was going on.

Why Buy The Cow?

When you get the milk for free? Mark Steyn can’t figure out why the Jihadis even bother to abduct journalists:

Did you see that video of the two Fox journalists announcing they’d converted to Islam? The larger problem, it seems to me, is that much of the rest of the Western media have also converted to Islam, and there seems to be no way to get them to convert back to journalism.

…One can understand the agonies the politically correct multicultural journalist must go through, distressed at the thought that an infelicitous phrasing might perpetuate unfortunate stereotypes of young Muslim males. But, even so, it’s quite a leap to omit the most pertinent fact and leave the impression the Sydney constabulary are combing the city for mullets. The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby wrote the other day about how American children’s books are “sacrificing truth on the altar of political correctness.” But there seems to be quite a lot of that in the grown-up comics, too. And, as I’ve said before, it’s never a good idea to put reality up for grabs. There may come a time when you need it.

Read the whole thing.

Interesting Side Effect

Boeing had a successful test of a missile defense system. But it seems to have exceeded…errrr…expectations:

Although not a primary objective of the test, the kill vehicle intercepted the warhead and destroyed it.

Dang. As John Miller notes, talk about burying the lede.

[Update after 7 PM EDT]

Well, at least Reuters (of all people) managed to figure out the significance of the test, even if the Boeing PR people couldn’t. Here’s the lead of their story:

The U.S. military shot down a target ballistic missile over the Pacific Friday in the widest test of its emerging antimissile shield in 18 months, the Defense Department announced.

Why We Hate Our Fabulous Economy

A professor explains. Unsurprisingly it’s (you guessed it!) biased and lousy reporting.

Inflation during the Bush administration has been much like it was during the Clinton administration. Even so, back then, we liked the economy. Now we hate it. So, what exactly is the problem? The “record setting” budget deficits, perhaps? Not really. Stagnant wages? Maybe, but I doubt it. I’ll take a look at these a bit later, but for now, my point is that any story you read about some aspect of the economy ought to include simple charts like these. Those two stories about budget deficits and stagnant wages — like almost all stories about the state of economy — don’t do that. You can learn more from a few informative charts than you can from reading the words of a reporter who has an agenda that is advanced, not by showing you the actual numbers, but by using bumper-sticker slogans to create the impression that things are “spiraling out of control.” Oh wait, that’s the phrase reporters use to characterize Iraq. Well, they don’t use charts for that purpose, either (and for the same reason).

Dirty Pair

New York Times editorial page today has an opinion about stem cells concluding:

Mostly it illustrates the great lengths to which scientists must go these days to shape stem cell research to fit the dictates of religious conservatives who have imposed their own view of morality on the scientific enterprise.

This following a piece on cluster bombs where they “dictate” the terms of weapons sales from the Pentagon to protect Lebanese. They have also “imposed their own view of morality on the” war “enterprise.”

At least both views of morality coincide on the ethics of cluster bomb use in stem cell research.