Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bias: What's New Pussycats?

I blogged this piece on Saturday, but it hasn't gone away: in fact as issues of "left" bias and declining (I mean collapsing) newspaper sales in the USA are mashed by old editor/pundits with all the grace of a nine-year-old Garage band debutant Michael Malone's "Media's Presidential Bias and Decline" on the ABC wesbite has grown in mythological status.

Here's a little more of the piece:
The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun -- for the first time in my adult life -- to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer," because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.

Editor & Publisher blogged it today, like this:
Naturally, some readers on the right -- always eager to suggest a liberal bias and that newspapers are paying for it (but why the recent readership decline at the NY Post and other conservative papers?) connected the dots in numerous letters to us. Many included with their missives a link to his lengthy piece at the ABC News site by tech writer Michael Malone, the former NY Times and San Jose Mercury News columnist.

But here's the thing: the bias has always been there: now we can see it. The internet makes everything one click away. It democratises doubt, it allows liberals to see what socialists are saying; and Republicans to understand what underpins the Democrats; and audiences of all kinds to compare how different types of reporters and editors are describing the same event. Guess what? People have views. Objectivity is rather hard. I'd say there have been more messengers shot in the past month than at any time since the Persian wars, or at least the launch of World of Warcraft.

The old days of, say, reading the New Republic - or The Spectator or Marxism Today - to know the "enemy" are long gone: now we swim in a knowledge sea of news, indifferent to everything but that which interests us. One person's left wing media bias, is another person's American Psycho Investment banker. The only criteria today is to be good, linked to.



... John Caputo, director of the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, said he is worried that students are not seeking reliable news at all. He teaches at Gonzaga University in Spokane, and he said his students spend most of their time on information-seeking time on social networking sites.

"After 9/11, we said how come nobody told us these people don't like us? Who are they? Where did they come from? How come journalists didn't tell us that story?" he said. "Part of it is that we were watching television's version of 'Survival.' We were watching all the things that took us away from knowing what was going on in the world. We are getting that way again."

This isn't bias, this is trauma.

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