Category Archives: Media Criticism

McCarthyism On The Left

Like this is news:

Novak blamed liberal discrimination which he said forces young conservatives to remain “in the closet” if they hope to have a career in media.

“One of the big differences in 50 years is that the liberals have now filtered into the executive ranks of journalism. And so if you go into journalism now not in the closet but out in the open as a conservative, you’re going to have a hard time getting a job, believe me.”

Conservatives also don’t like journalism as a profession, Novak added, saying that when he goes to various colleges and universities, the young conservatives and libertarians he runs into rarely have any interest in journalism.

The syndicated columnist fit these trends into what he said was a general decline in the journalism business, despite the fact that it has become more professionalized:

“Journalism is a hard thing to gauge. When I set out with my first paper in the summer of 1948, for the Joliet Herald-News there were in the newsroom there about two or three people who had ever been to college. Journalism was not an educated person’s game. So we’re much better educated, we’re sophisticated, we have people with graduate degrees

“The Rule, Not The Exception”

The life of a soldier has been described as long periods of boredom punctuated by occasional moments of sheer terror. Michael Totten has a military correspondent who reports that Iraq is no different:

Even in the worst places, day-to-day activity is mundane and quiet. When attacks occur, they do so viciously. In my case, these resulted in my unit

“The Rule, Not The Exception”

The life of a soldier has been described as long periods of boredom punctuated by occasional moments of sheer terror. Michael Totten has a military correspondent who reports that Iraq is no different:

Even in the worst places, day-to-day activity is mundane and quiet. When attacks occur, they do so viciously. In my case, these resulted in my unit

“The Rule, Not The Exception”

The life of a soldier has been described as long periods of boredom punctuated by occasional moments of sheer terror. Michael Totten has a military correspondent who reports that Iraq is no different:

Even in the worst places, day-to-day activity is mundane and quiet. When attacks occur, they do so viciously. In my case, these resulted in my unit

Morons

Two points. First, the new power (for good or ill) of blogs:

The tragedy stunned space tourism supporters, many of whom were betting that Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceline would be the first in the fledgling business to send well-heeled tourists out of the atmosphere.

“I suspect that this is a major setback for Virgin Galactic, because they may have to go back to the drawing board for propulsion, for PR reasons if nothing else,” wrote former aerospace engineer and space tourism consultant Randy Simberg on his blog Transterrestrial Musings.

I guess I have to be more careful what I post. At least I used the crucial word “may…”

The second point, of course (note the emphasis), is that whoever dug this up on the Interweb couldn’t read my name correctly, and felt compelled to add the obligatory (and yet, entirely not only not necessary, but insulting diminutive “y” to it).

[Update a minute later]

Great. It’s not just the Chron. This has become the AP story, as demonstrated by the same error at the Mercury News. Thus are urban legends born.

Out Of The Closet

Penelope Trunk is right, (though I’m not sure that she understands all the implications of her position):

Here’s my advice: If you do an interview with a journalist, don’t expect the journalist to be there to tell your story. The journalist gets paid to tell her own stories which you might or might not be a part of. And journalists, don’t be so arrogant to think you are not “one of those” who misquotes everyone. Because that is to say that your story is the right story. But it’s not. We each have a story. And whether or not someone actually said what you said they said, they will probably still feel misquoted.

In other words, “objective journalism” is a myth (something I’ve been pointing out for a long time):

The first [delusion] is common to journalism school graduates (or even dropouts), because it’s part of the modern creed–that there is some achievable perfection called “objective factual reporting.”

The second, which is not only a delusion, but a conceit, is that his employer’s paper not only attempts to achieve that platonic ideal, but actually succeeds.

Here’s a reality check. Stories are (at least for now) reported by humans, with human emotions, and human points of view. They are inevitably viewed through the prism of the reporter, and as they become ink and pixels, are passed through the sieve of his experience and prejudices. About any event, there is an infinitude of information that could be provided, but there isn’t ink and newsprint enough, nor bandwidth, nor time in the day for the reporter to write it, and the reader to read it.

So a story has to be reduced to what the reporter considers to be its essential elements. Like the old joke about the sculptor, he takes the body of available facts, and cuts away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant. But that’s the key; the sculptor is carving an elephant–a decision usually made before chisel is taken in hand. It may be that the rock from which he’s knocking off the non-pachydermic chips wasn’t simply a rectangular block–it perhaps naturally started out with a resemblance to an elephant, but that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t have hacked out a hippo instead.

So it is with a news story. The reporter has to start with some notion of what the story is. And as soon as that decision is made, the bias has begun, and continues. He has to decide which facts are facts, and which are conjecture. He has to decide which of those facts and conjectures should be included, and which left out. He has to decide which words to use–whether the protagonist is, for example, a “terrorist” or a “freedom fighter.” Each of those decisions, word by word, preconception by preconception, eventually determines whether the reporter creates an elephant, or a hippo, or a redwood tree.

And after that, if he works for a “serious newspaper,” he has to submit it to an editor, who will either agree that the reporter has created an elephant, or he might point out that he left out some critical item (e.g., a trunk) or included one that seems out of place (e.g., webbed bird claws for feet).

Once past this serious process, the story is complete. And in the mind of Mr. Rutten, “accurate the first time,” though a different reporter at a different “serious newspaper,” working with exactly the same body of facts (but a different background, sensibility, and bias) might write, and his editor edit, a completely different “accurate” story in which, lo and behold, it turns that it was a hippo after all, or perhaps…a platypus.

As I’ve also noted many times, what rankles so much about media bias is not so much the bias itself, but the media’s willful blindness to it, and sanctimonious attitude.

And I don’t agree with her that “it doesn’t matter,” and that when literally misquoted, or quoted out of context, we should simply “get over it.” She’s right that we shouldn’t expect any better, but we should still point it out when it happens, early and often, and that’s what the blogosphere, and free speech in general, is all about. Paid reporters have no special First Amendment privileges. Continually pointing out their falsities and frailties, and agendas, is the only way for everyone to get the full story.

The Massacre That Didn’t Happen

Apparently it was just like Jenin, except it took a lot longer to debunk, and the media played along, as usual.

In the case of Haditha, the terrorists’ media strategy worked and caused a lot of problems. An anti-war congressman claimed that a cover-up of cold-blooded murder by the Marines occurred. There was a controversy that has gone on for a number of months. And al Qaeda will come away with articles about massacres that never happened. It is a partial media victory for the terrorists