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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Mon. 10/27/08 08:33:41 AM

Two Three Writers Blast Journalism

Sci-Fi author Orson Scott Card lambastes mainstream media's pro-Obama bias, Oct. 5 (emphasis in original):

An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America....
Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.
But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.
If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.
Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means. That's how trust is earned.
Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.
Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.
So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?
Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?
You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.
That's where you are right now....

And reporter & editor Michael S. Malone thinks he knows why they're in the tank, Oct. 24 (mid-sentence and concluding ellipses in original):

.... Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.
In other words, you are facing career catastrophe — and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway — all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.
And then the opportunity presents itself: an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career. With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.
And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country....

P.S. Jules Crittendon reflects on Malone's essay, Oct. 28:

.... The problem is that for all the J-school lip service, no one was ever actually taught to be fair. How else to explain the predominance of loaded words for “said.” “Maintained” is one of my favorites. Code for “is full of it, but I can’t exactly say that.” How else to explain why every McCain claim or McCain supporter’s claim is refuted in the next graph with unattributed Obama camp policy interpretations, while the same gratuitous courtesy is not extended to the McCain camp? How else to explain the massive movement of reporters into Alaska, while news organizations have done everything they can to avoid reporting on the background of the Democratic presidential candidate, let alone his veep. How else to explain the utter lack of respect and tolerance for people whose views and lifestyles differ from theirs, while hypocritically trumpeting demands for respect and tolerance?
You have to remind yourself sometimes, that even as bad as it is, it is a pillar and an essential one of our society. It is important. We can’t do without it. Every day, in this space, I draw on useful information from news organizations I have come to despise for their shamelessness. I may have to winnow it, filter it, and maybe hose it off, but I have no choice. I’m not embarrassed by what I do for a living, or even by my profession. I’m just disgusted by so many of the people who are my colleagues....

P.P.S. Michael S. Malone writes a follow-up column, Nov. 7 (mid-sentence ellipsis in original):

.... In the end, the meme I created took on a life of its own and left me, happily, far behind. My column had, unexpectedly, accomplished what we columnists dream of happening just once in our careers: it set off a national debate, and freed people to talk about a topic that had been gnawing away inside their hearts. Within days, other, more famous journalists came forward to agree with what I said. Pew and the Media Research Center released surveys that seemed to confirm widespread and egregious media bias — a belief underscored by multiple polls of the general public. And I noted, with great satisfaction, that in the last twenty four hours of the campaign, the media — embarrassed at last — seemed to try a little harder to balance its reporting... only to backslide (as noted even by Tom Shales) on election night.
So, what did I learn from this experience? That it is possible in this new cyber-world to be a lone writer sitting at his laptop in suburbia and write something that actually changes the course of events and, momentary at least, sets the national debate. I also learned that the raw power — and the ability to mobilize people — of the Web and the blogosphere is both immense and growing fast. But legitimacy is still conferred by the traditional media — which makes their duty to be fair and unbiased even greater....

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Mon. 10/27/08 08:33:41 AM
Categorized as Media & Political.


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