Media Can’t Help Editorializing the ‘News’

Johnny Wingnut

hill.gifI understand why clear thinking people take conservative commentator, Larry Elder’s advice when he writes, “Fight media bias—read defensively.” Hell, I’ll go one further than that, Larry; “Read offensively.” Don’t just sensitize yourself to blatant opinion writing in the guise of news, but whenever you encounter it, point it out. Rant, rave, scream and literally point the finger!

In that vein, I think I’m going to start a website called N.Y.TimesSucks.com. They just can’t help editorializing the news. They don’t mean to. It isn’t some vast leftwing conspiracy as some of my peers have written. Rather, it’s just a way of life for many of today’s journalists to absentmindedly throw in an opinion here or there. Even so, any competent content editor will catch this stuff, and either edit it out or take the writer to task. So, I’m not really sure who’s more culpable here. Anyway, here’s a typical example of the kind of overt opinion writing you can expect in the publication.

“His speaking style swung between folksy and laconic to the point of sleepy.”

That statement, in reference to now ex-presidential candidate Fred Thompson, was in a news article entitled, Fred Thompson Drops Out of the Presidential Race. And it’s that kind of opinion writing (and worse) which is called news in our modern era. Such practices have become so commonplace we hardly notice, especially if the embedded editorial happens to be consistent with what we believe.

If you’re a journalist, your job is to report the news. Save the opinion writing for when you do op-eds. You may report what someone else has said about Fred Thompson’s speaking style, but as a reporter, you are bound by the profession to keep your opinions to yourself. Certainly don’t put them into a “news article” as though your opinion is fact. That’s not journalism; that’s opinion writing and you do violence to the profession of journalism every time you put your opinion into a piece of reporting and call it news.

Advertisements

~ by johnnywingnut on January 23, 2008.

23 Responses to “Media Can’t Help Editorializing the ‘News’”

  1. Our local paper does this as well. It is sad how far the profession of jouralism has fallen. They no longer report the news, they give their opinions or the opinion of those in charge (often the same) and pretend to be doing us a service. Propaganda is not news and news is not propaganda.

  2. Johnny Wingnut’s writing style swings between angry and punchy to the point of scowling.

    Just practicing in case I ever get a media job. I think a lot of people might overlook shit like this, but this is exactly part of the death-by-a-thousand-cuts. Blur the lines and opinion becomes fact. And the average clown pays no attention, so there’s nothing to question.

  3. I agree with you JWN. We’ve had this discussion many times, and I find it disturbing to say the least that “opinion” is presented as fact.

    But remember, the average American is “ignorant, uneducated, dull witted” etc, and we don’t really want the truth. We like fluff, the latest rumors, and pantyless trollops. Facts, information, and what’s important be damned.

    However, I will say, if you’ve ever heard Thompson speak the writer has him dead to rights. It was like the campaign of the Living Dead, oh, and his wife’s big tits.

    And his incessant use of colloquialisms was/is the epitome of an intellectually lazy man.

  4. Randal you are fucking hilarious.
    johnny i remember twenty years ago when i took my first course in journalism there was a huge section of our curriculum dedicated to objective reporting.
    It that is being objective is nearly impossible in our modern age.
    the N.Y. post exemplifies the new style of journalism that has captivated a nation. “the crackpot wielded a gun” Not “The alleged crackpot” hell they get away with using greaseball as an apt description.
    i though you would kinda like Newscorp. The National Enquirer is also a great example. The lines have been blurre3d years ago. you should Good Night Good Luck or better yet study Murrow yourself. In the wqorld of journalism you will be surprised to learn the only difference today is the darkside (the left) has an equally disturbing voice.
    The violence to Journalism you speak of has reached epic proportions and could be described as a massacre
    today , in our modern age ,news is spin.
    News is advertising. News is defined by the people that report it. Heard any ‘feelgood’ stories lately?
    If suicides begin to spike you will start to hear them.
    aspirin sales slumping? guess what, the surgeon general says aspirin is good for you…i read it in the paper.
    I

  5. Fairlane,

    Pravda, AKA, the NYTimes, is appallingly elitist and often wrong.

    Jason Blair, Judith Miller, William Kristol. Need I say more?

    I’m always amazed, amused and annoyed when I read one of their “36 Hours in Blah, Blah, Blah.” Pravda could visit Dildo, ID, population 1,200, and they would find the one eatery within 500 square miles serving $100 dollar, 1 lbs. hamburgers. Their writer would pronounce the eatery “stunning, and fabulous.”

    Puke.

    I guess I’m just not an Upper Westside or Tribeca swell, so I have no use for Pravda.

  6. Great points – I’ve been noticing this phenomenon in the newspapers as well. I read the Times every day so I probably noticed it there; but I also read the Wall Street Journal so it may happen there as well. And of course it’s nothing compared to the unmitigated opinionated garbage on the “news” programs on TV.

  7. I’ve been reading and watching on TV an entire day of news “editorializing” and I’m so sick of it. As long as Rupert Murdoch is in charge, we might as well kiss journalism good-bye.

  8. :)Too funny Randall. Just remember you can still editorialize yer stuff covertly. Here’s how. Instead of being as bold as The Times, and just out with it. Only use sources which parrot your views. For example, you don’t have to say, “Johnny Wingnut’s writing style swings between angry and punchy to the point of scowling.” Just find someone else to say it and quote them. Even better find a whole bunch of someones to say it and quote them. If you’re slick about it, you can just pick whatever pet issue strokes yer fur and find a bunch of “experts” who hold the editorial position of your publication and only use them. Whatever you do, never…I mean never, ever get multiple angles on a story (some folks call it getting both sides) and give them equal time. If you do that, you will be in real danger of becoming an actual journalist and will find yourself unemployed.

    Oh and I need to say thank you one and all for your comments. The quote I chose to use was a fairly weak example, I know. But I was in a hurry that day and the Times does this so often, they’re just an easy target.

    I have noticed (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) The Washington Times makes for slightly better reading and at least half the time I come away from their articles feeling proud to be an American journalist and a sometime Editor In Chief. The rest of the time I must hang my head in shame.

    Bernard Goldberg has an incredible book on this phenomenon called, “Bias” with the subtitle, “A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.” In it, Goldberg, a self proclaimed liberal, documents not only the bias, but how most of his colleagues treated him when he pointed it out to them. Goldberg is a first class writer in his own right and the blatant editorializing of the news he exposes is dynamite. Another good resource is a statistic and content comparison packed book called, “And That’s The Way It Isn’t.” It’s a bit dry, but an excellent reference work, which meticulously documents the bias.

    Fairlane, I am in complete agreement with both you and the writer of the “article” on Thompson’s speaking “style.” I was just less than thrilled to see this written as a news story. Fair and balanced my ass.

  9. Oh shit! I meant to say “Washington Post.” Alla Damnit!
    Hell, you know what I meant.@#$%^&*#@!!! There…I feel better now. Time for a Heineken.

  10. nope they cant help it — most people who read the op ed pages THINK they are reading fact, not opinion — that is one reason why i cancelled my subscription to the NYT.

    and there is no way that you cannot inject bias into news — it is just part of human nature — and it is made even more pronounced in these days of us vs them, and corporations that own media — that are trying to set agendas

    like clear channel, news corp etc. they are all guilty.

    just my 2 cents — and from seeing the inner workings of a newsroom every day

  11. 10-4 d.c. That was part of my reason for attempting to build a coalition of liberal, conservative, and everything in between journalists. I figured we’d offer something no other publication had (at least the mainstream ones, anyway): diversity. That kind of diversity gives you a built in accountability. It fosters not just balance in coverage, but objective reporting. It also fosters teamwork. People have to find a way to work together and appreciate at least some of their differences. If not, well, they can just be consumed in the flames of their own ideological dogmatism. In the end, I suppose it didn’t matter, except that I tried. I gave the sheeple more credit, I suppose, than they deserved. I found out that “fair and balanced” only applies to those with whom we agree. I had one angry would-be subscriber cancel her subscription precisely because I allowed people to express themselves on the op-ed pages, of all places. The poor woman thought an op-ed written by a socially liberal dear friend of mine…I won’t mention any names who that blogger was/is(wink, wink)… was a news article. She said, “I thought you were going to be unbiased. That was a very biased article!” Whatever…If the OPINION expressed had been written by a card carrying conservative like yours truly, she would’ve applauded the “article” even as she branded the publication with the label of “unbiased.” I am told that mitosis of gray matter is a common occurrence among Kool-Aid drinkers like the lady I just mentioned; I’d just like to see more evidence of it.

  12. JWN- The irony is, (I guess you could call it irony), we essentially have it here at, of all places, Jonestown, and we didn’t even really try.

    It simply worked out.

    Are you going to mention your big news or are you keeping it on the DL?

  13. JWN: Noyce! I hate the TISSUE OF LIES. I only read it because my ex had a subscription and I liked the crossword puzzles. Fairlane is absolutely right it’s just pretentious crap. Not that I love Bernard Goldberg, who’s just a nasty old man.

    Maureen Dowd’s presence alone is enough to never buy the Times

  14. I know Kelso. I feel the same way…about Maureen in particular. She’s entertaining. That’s how I look at the op-ed pages in general, as entertainment and to a much lesser degree, the news can perform the same function. I have written elsewhere that the op-ed pages are “vaudeville in print.” They should be “fun.” But I think they should challenge us as well. Folks should take that challenge as an opportunity for growth, even if what we’re reading pisses us off. That anger can be a good thing when it drives us to go deeper, to do our homework, to question our own presuppositions, etc. However, it seems that with the masses it’s an opportunity to mimic ostriches: head in the sand; ass in the air.

  15. Maureen “I’m a Self-Righteous Liberal Hack” Dowd is terrible, as is Mona “I’m a self-loathing Bitch” Charen, Cal “Don’t tell my Mom I’m Gay as a Mother Fucker” Thomas, Thomas “Yas Massa” Sowell, and George “Where’s Waldo?” Will.

    In fact, they all suck. Writing, at least in the mainstream, along with music, art, and anything else worthwhile is fucking dead.

    I guess the idea is similar to what they tell people working in slaughter houses, “Eventually you’ll get used to the smell, and in time you won’t even notice. It just becomes a part of life.”

    Some day, if things continue as they are, kids won’t know at one time a thing called “Art” even existed.

  16. Absolutely right, Fairlane and JWN. The MSM is useless in terms of delivering the news and in presenting good writing. I look to fellow bloggers and the news outlets I trust (so long, my beloved Wall Street Journal–it was good to know ye; on to the same dung heap as the once-brilliant LA Times) for news and for stylistic flourishes I can steal!

    Here’s my test for all bloggers, left, right and center with regard to all MSM outlets and especially the Tissue Of Lies. Take a subject you know REALLY WELL. Whatever subject. Read an article in the Tissue Of Lies about that subject and count the factual errors, the lies of commission, the lies of omission, the distortions, and note their trite phraseology. OK, so how do you know that they’re not doing the same with the coverage of politics, foreign affairs and business? You don’t because they are.

  17. btw fairlane

    i went to high school AND hebrew school with Mona “I’m a self-loathing Bitch” Charen.

    don’t ask —- you should see the pictures of at 17.

    btw — she was such a nerd in HS, no wonder she turned out the way she did.

    JWN — thanks — i got plenty more to write about this — i sit in a newsroom at work (i am not a journalist) — so i see a lot what goes on for “news”

    maybe i shouldnt talk, it is too depressing

  18. Well, d.c. definitely you should blab, even if it is only your Jonestown pals. We’re up for it as you can see. I love seeing others take the machine apart and it’s always better when it’s an inside job, you know. Sometimes that’s what it takes to start a revolution. Speaking of revolution, I sort of have it in my head that blogging will become the last great haven for freedom in society. It’s only a matter of time before da gubment starts regulating the internet via corporations. When that happens, I envision a cadre of super bloggers who hack into the system so they can podcast, videoblog, and upload their rants. I’m writing a book on it. Should make a pretty good B movie. Any suggestions on a title?

  19. fairlane, I wasn’t sure if the news was appropriate. Not sure why. What does that mean? Paranoid maybe? I didn’t take my meds today.

    And yeah, it is ironic. You weren’t trying to do that, but it’s working out that way. I would like to see at least another real conservative he-man type contributing, though.

    Along those same lines, it looks like I’m going to be crossposting over at democratsspeak.blogspot.com as well. I wonder if they’ll be as good to me as everyone over here has been. Of course, we haven’t really touched on the hotbutton topics that conservatives and liberals want to rip each other to shreds over yet either. But I’m confident at Jonestown there’s enough mutual respect we can weather it and all grow from the exchange….or perhaps there’ll be death threats…lol:) Hey, it’s all good!

  20. jwn — i will blab — here 😎
    too many work pals read my blog

    it’s only a matter of time before da gubment starts regulating the internet via corporations. When that happens, I envision a cadre of super bloggers who hack into the system so they can podcast, videoblog, and upload their rants.

    you mean a couple of rants between the commericals and ads

  21. Yeah, d.c. lol:) Commercials not withstanding, actually I see this group cutting into the corporate bourgeoisie. Sort of an underground, unauthorized interruption for true station identification. I’ve only just started researching for this project, though, so the characters are still in their infancy, as are many of the details of just how this will be done. I would like to get to know my other partners in “crime” a bit better, however. For the time being, I will have to model their characters after my impressions of their posts, names changed, of course, to protect the innocent. If anyone is bothered by that, please give a shout and I’ll refrain from using you. But I hope the Jonestown Superteam/Clan doesn’t mind. Probably, some of the regs, like you, for example, d.c. will have to make an appearance as well.
    Still looking for a title I like, so if anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears.
    see you

  22. JWN:

    Just tell me how I can be useful, and I’m there, buddy.

    You know that I’m in a 100-way tie for the title of Jonestown’s biggest supporter.

    As for “hotbutton topics that conservatives and liberals want to rip each other to shreds over,” why hold back? I have more to fear from censorship and self-censorship than I have to fear from philosophies and opinions. I think you can expect me to be of some use as your “he-man” second on subjects such as economics, finance, trade, and their running-mate “Taxes,” etc. You can also expect me to probably be your MOST vigorous opponent on “National Security,” “Criminal Justice,” “Immigration,” and “Civil Rights.”

    I know that no member of the Jonestown Clan nor any regular believes in censorship, so while, for example “no sex, yes violence in movies” may be a big deal to some Wingnuts, it’s settled law in the “Peoples’ Republic Of Jonestown.”

    But you’re right. It’s all good.

  23. Very well said, Kelso. I don’t think the “avoidance” of the liberal/conservative “taboo” topics was intentional. It just sort of derived that way. Probably a good thing, as it helps everyone involved see that not only can we converse, but we actually have some common ground…an example our politicians should follow. I think once we realize that we’re all human beings just trying to make our way in the world and that it’s okay to disagree and even have heated debate over some of the issues, then an environment is created where we can “have it out” and still be cool with each other at the end of the day. Just ask fairlane. He and I have had our fair share of arguments, (although it’s been a while since we’ve had a knock down drag out)and yet we’re tighter than the bark on a rubber tree. I consider him one of my dearest friends, even if we don’t agree on a lot of things. There’s mucho tolerance, and a lot of mutual respect. Anyway, as far as the ideological controversy is concerned, (wingnuts and moonbats) fairlane is going to start pulling things off my blog and crossposting the stuff over here in all its wingnuttiness. I predict we’ll be chewin’ the fat again in no time…hasta.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: