Thursday, January 12, 2012

Brisbane Trampled by Thundering Herd

Poor Arthur Brisbane just can't get no nuance.  In a column that critics are calling a parody straight out of The Onion, the New York Times public editor plaintively asked readers today if they think the paper should bother calling out lies. The commentariat, whom Brisbane has infamously derided in a past column as "the thundering herd", trampled him but good in their 200-plus universally scathing and outraged responses.  By the time reader Denis N. alerted me to the column a few hours after it hit the site, comments had already been slammed shut by the shaken p.e.


Brisbane, apparently, was stunned that readers were stunned he had even needed to ask if reporters should be nit-picky in checking their facts and the veracity of those they quote. And he obviously thinks readers are just as stupid as they were a year ago when he wrote his "Thundering Herd" column* (a/k/a "Readers With Plenty to Say") Here is what he huffily emailed to media critic Jim Romanesko today:

 I have to say I did not expect that so many people would interpret me to have asked only: should The Times print the truth and fact-check? Of course, The Times should print the truth, when it can be found, and fact-check. What I was trying to ask was whether reporters should always rebut dubious facts in the bodies of the stories they are writing. I was hoping for diverse and even nuanced responses to what I think is a difficult question....I often get well-reasoned complaints and questions from readers, but in this case a lot of people responded to a question I was not asking.
Take that, thundering herd! Artie gives you a D for conduct and effort, despite the fact that the Gray Lady has seen fit to reduce the length of reader responses to a paltry 1500 characters (three or four very short paragraphs), so nuance is kind of hard. Nuance is also totally unnecessary and inappropriate when responding to drivel. A quick eff you would have sufficed.  Speaking of effort, a typical Arthur Brisbane Sunday column consists of cut and pasted letters from the readership. That's it. He slaps up the missives and does not even deign to respond. He usually receives but a handful of reader comments, so today's deluge might have had him sputtering.

Brisbane does have at least one semi-defender in the person of Esquire scribe Charles P. Pierce, who writes that reporters in this digital age are up against constant deadlines, cutthroat competition, and editors who often side with the lying liars. The bottom line trumps truth and accuracy:
Most newspapers -- most especially, the New York Times -- have forced upon their reporters what are called "ethics codes," but which, in reality, are speech codes written to prevent the beancounters and careerists from having to answer angry phone calls from wingnuts. I am not kidding -- under some of these abominations, a reporter literally can be disciplined for spouting off about, say, Willard Romney in a bar, if someone heard the reporter, and called the beancounter to complain. The campaign buses are filled now with young reporters who know full well that, given sufficient pressure from either inside or outside "the company," their bosses do not have their backs.
There is some truth(iness) in this. When I was working as a cub reporter at the dawn of time, when they still had manual typewriters, I got into big trouble once  for being a bit too obsessed with veracity. I had the poor taste to write an article on a something I'd come across in the police blotter that morning: the son of a mayoral candidate running on a law and order platform was arrested on vandalism and burglary charges. Somehow my scoop slipped past the editor's mangle and got into print. The candidate stormed in, livid. I got a dressing-down from my boss for having done a nasty bitchy thing by not keeping a private family matter on the QT. In the end, it didn't matter: she won the election.  

So, yeah... I can imagine Pinch Sulzberger's phone ringing off the hook because one of the bitchy reporters hurt Mitt Romney's feelings by calling him out on a fib or hundred. It's all about access, not alienating the advertisers and the rich and powerful -- and nuance. Journalists are as expendable as the wrapping for last night's fish.

Which is why I am perfectly happy to be a poor blogger in my dotage. People can complain all they want (and they do). But nobody can fire me.

*Art interviewed me for that piece. He made me the lede Elsie too!  He even gave me his private cell phone number. I kept it, just in case I ever need a rich guy to bail me out of jail. 

30 comments:

DreamsAmelia said...

This headline, alone, is poetic justice eclipsing Virgil's Aneied:

"Brisbane Trampled by Thundering Herd"

Hallelujah!
Brilliant!!!
Hooray! This is almost a "Mubarak Finally Steps Down After Faking the Crowd Out Numerous Times and Realizing it Ain't Gonna Work!!" moment....!

Poor Brisby!....you were ultra kind NOT to include his photograph with this post, al la your priceless Gingrich and Possessed-Arm-Candy-Turned-Arsenic Wife photos--for you could see him whining that it's not fair, he didn't have a chance to jump in the saddle, nor don his spurs before the dust of the herd just engulfed him...

Thanks for reminding us of the final straw (his Thundering Herd piece of work) that seemed to birth this blog--
What an insult to your fan base for him to come up with a surely cleaned-up quote stripped of all your deeply delicious, but never overly-malicious, satire--

“I try to be fast, accurate, on-topic and censor-proof,” said Ms. Garcia, of New Paltz, N.Y.

Puh-leeze--is he interviewing Joe Blow in the stands of the Mets game? We KNOW Garcia's characteristic sauciness, and we know she had a hell of a lot more to say, but that's all you chose to print....

And then, imagine! The gall--after being "rebuffed" for making her "comments," which Brisbane sees fit to put in quotation marks, as if reader "comments" are not the equivalent of any old ordinary off-the-cuff comment some working stiff is going to spout off to a friend or mutter under his breath as the boss walks by---but instead, are in some weird, sur-real, not quite believable, and surely not as fully _valid_ as Hard News category--after being "rebuffed," this seasoned-to-picante reporter has the gall to start up her own blog!

If this blog is her "rebuffed," I don't think I want to know how Ms. Garcia feels when she is "invited."

Like Krugman says, in effect, "I don't schmooze and I don't go to cocktail parties. I'm not on this planet to win friendship with the influential, I'm here to search for and tell the absolute truth. And if the absolute truth leads me over the toes of the influential, I don't mind stepping on them. Hard."

Yes, Ms. Garcia was one commenter with "plenty to say" like, you know, that optional, debatable thing: the truth--and with epic humor, to boot! So witness the 251 posts, and counting. A few Times reporters and columnists might learn a thing or two from her...

Here is where she flies unencumbered by overly prudish journalistic standards that preen the 1% and spit on the rest of us---thank god she was released from the tiny cage of Times Reader Comments and found her wings!

Thunder On, Herd! You will be heard as you Occupy!! Sardonicky heartens us as we thunder!

Jay - Ottawa said...

Such un-nuanced negativity! Decades ago it was "Think Pink." Today, I hear the admonition to "be positive."

Allow me to open a can of worms, by way of being less negative. So, where do you cats find the truth about goings-on at home and around the world? I mean, after you click on Sardonicky, as soon as you boot up in the morning?

No more than four sources/publications at a time from any one of you, PLEASE. Did I mention no more than four?

Here's mine:
Harper's Magazine
The Walrus (new Canadian imitator of Harper's)
TomDispatch
La Jornada (with help from a Spanish reader in the family)

The Doktor said...

@Dreams Amelia -good call! Karen did whip up something amazing....
Sometimes the deer in the headlights can give the rest of us a teachable moment. In this instance it may be that the incremental destruction of honorable truth telling as a "given" for public figures and especially major news outlets has gone unnoticed by the very people who make their living at it and are therefore expected to notice such things.
It occurred to me over a decade ago that people used to be ashamed when they got caught lying, and/or cheating or stealing... look at Richard Nixon ( or not ) he stepped down and resigned in the face of something GWB would have laughed off as a prank and Fox News would have called it unpatriotic to bring it up if Watergate had of happened in the 2000's. My point being our society as a whole doesn't hold people to account the way we used to, so I guess I'm glad of Mr. Brisbane's article and his admission of ignorance, I have advocated for a specific "NEWS" designation that has to be earned, tabloids and blogs can still post rumors but Fox News would have to change it's name, because they do not provide a trustworthy service. Politifact is hit and miss, their latest Pants On Fire rating for President Obama is idiotic in my estimation.

Too much pain not enough time, more later...

Anne Lavoie said...

@Jay - Ottawa

Here are some news sites I check out daily. Blogs are not included in this list.

The Guardian
Al Jazeera
China Daily
Christian Science Monitor

James F Traynor said...

Jeez, Karen, I didn't know you were such a celebrity, journalistically speaking. Occasionally, I emerge from the wilderness of my mind, look around and, amazed at all the lights and traffic, melt back into the mist with a backwards growl. This was one of those occasions, having spent a few days wrestling with, and generally failing at, the task of importing data files into R. Then I read your post. Who the hell is this guy? And then I read his articles. God, you must be proud of yourself. They sent their yapper after you!

Denis Neville said...

@Jay - Ottawa

Sites (there are many) that I check out frequently:

1. ProPublica (Journalism in Public Interest) http://www.propublica.org/
2. Nieman Watchdog (Questions the Press Should Ask) http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/
3. Fair (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) http://www.fair.org/blog/
3. Arts and Letters Daily (articles of note, essays and opinions, new books; links to newspapers, magazines, book reviews, columnists, etc.) http://www.aldaily.com/

Periodically, Lapham’s Quarterly (Lapham, formerly editor of Harper’s Magazine) – A Magazine of History and Ideas @ http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/magazine/

Bonnie said...

Common Dreams (commondreams@commondreams.org)
Truthout (messenger@truthout.org)
AlterNet (alternet.org)
Reader Supported News (readersupportednews.org)
Crooks & Liars
Progressive Breakfast (campaign for America's future)
Natural News (naturalnews.com)

Anne Lavoie said...

Four more:

Glenn Greenwald (salon.com)
truthdig.com
nader.org
democracynow.org

James Singer said...

The Guardian
Al Jazeera
The Onion
LA Times

But since I've got a lot of time, I check a lot more, too: Rollin Stone, Daily Racing Form, Sacto Bee, WaPo... on and on.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Anne, Bonnie, Denis -- so far.

Rich tips to supplement Karen's blog roll.

Totally unaware of a few of these publications. Others I had left too long unvisited or assumed subscriptions were required to view them on line.

I discovered that some, like Lapham's Quarterly, are generous to non-subscribers, and for about half the price of a year's subscription one can buy a hardcopy back issue devoted in its entirety to a single subject of special interest.

I also appreciate tips to the foreign press, the perspective from other lands too little covered by American dailies and weeklies.

Thanks.

Kat said...

What an asshole. Does he not realize that his paper would be of little value to me (so I am making the leap and saying there are many like me) without the comments. Why don't they cut the salary of some of their high priced columnists? (start with Tommy, Kristof, and Brooks) and use the savings to get more moderators. I don't value what these frauds have to say. I just like the replies.

Valerie said...

@Kat

Amen to that!

I am embarassed to admit (now that I see how widely read so many of you are) I only regularly read Sardonicky, Truthout and TruthDig and then I chase down all the comments the rest of you mention in your comments. Now that Bill Moyers is back on the scene, I will chase down some of the books and articles by the people he has on the show.

Wonderful that there is such a well-informed commentariat here on Sardonicky!

Zee said...

Like Valerie, I, too, have been very impressed by the breadth and depth of knowledge exhibited by Sardonicky participants, as well as the number of news and opinion outlets that you regularly read.

I don't know where you all find the time!

Relative to the main thrust of Ms. Garcia's post today--which is excellent--I too agree that "...reporters should be nit-picky in checking their facts and the veracity of those they quote..." as long as they properly cite the sources that dispute said "veracity," and that the disputation doesn't devolve to a "he said/she said" type of argument.

The older that I get, the more the scientist/analyst in me rejects "unnamed sources" and fact-free disputation.

Moreover, when it comes to controversial subjects, a reporter might be expected to have some expertise on the topic. Once again I will draw on the subject of guns, but only to provide examples about which I have great familiarity. Please, no new discussion of guns and gun control today!

Any reporter who doesn't know (1) a magazine from a clip, (2) a semi-automatic weapon from an automatic weapon, (3) that no modern revolvers have "safeties," and (4) that there is no such thing as a
".38 caliber Magnum"--all examples that I have seen referred to by the so-called reputable press--should perhaps think twice about reporting on the topic.

I know that I think twice even about making comments in this forum in areas where I have little knowledge, but then I am admittedly seeking to be educated as well as to educate. And here the "education" comes fast and furious.

How much more conscientious should a reporter for a nominally reputable news outlet be when claiming that her/his assertions are based on facts, and when opportunities for feedback may be limited?

James Singer said...

@Zee.

Your windy Apologia Pro Vita Sua in defense of the gun lobby is getting a bit tiresome. Please pick another subject to illustrate you arguments.

The Doktor said...

@Zee;
Semantics and proper nomenclature are too oft overlooked indeed!
I think some of it is laziness and some of it is unspoken corporate acceptance of popular culture ( or lack thereof ), and more insidiously is spoken corporate objection to pointing out how the MIC has figured out how to buy our democracy and done so with precision as good as any missile.
I'd call it a bloodless coup except "We The People" are suffering and dying as a result of the politics of greed.
Very little mention of the protests on the decade of disgrace on 1/11/12 in the MSM.
Has anyone heard about the 15 year old child shot and killed by a bullet to the back of head from Texas police in a school? The militarization continues apace....

Anne Lavoie said...

@Zee

Nice try, but I think your shot missed the target.

As long as the reporter or writer is not deliberately trying to misinform or mislead, I think they should be allowed some slack as far as inadvertently using incorrect terminology for weapons and their component parts. I believe the real issue was reporters acting like stenographers and letting dubious matters slide without question, but I can understand the urge to draw your gun!

The thing about guns is that many people aren't interested in them, don't own any, and maybe have never used one. They learn what little they know incidentally because it is not a subject taught in schools as far as I know. Think about computer terminology, which is taught in schools, and how difficult it is to get the lingo down. I don't think that should inhibit someone from expressing themselves. Right, sock puppets?

Anyway, we haven't all studied guns for the past 30 years as you have, Zee. Some of us news junkies use our time reading various and sundry sources of news instead of focusing on a single issue. Boom!

Time to reload.

Annie Oakley

Valerie said...

I found Bill Moyers! The shows are shown only on local PBS stations - click here to find the station nearest you http://billmoyers.com/schedule/ -

I wish I could support my local PBS station as a thank you for airing the show - but since I am in Australia, I have to go to the web for my link. If you are in the same boat as me - stationless - here is the link - http://billmoyers.com/episode/on-winner-take-all-politics/

Bill Moyers is one of my all time heroes! I am so glad and so grateful he has been willing to come out of retirement - and Judith, after a lifetime of sharing her husband with all of us, is willing to share him again.

Zee, if you haven't watched Moyers in the past, you are in for an amazing experience. No TV journalist comes close. There is the Best and then there is Moyers - in a class by himself.

Denis Neville said...

@ Jay and all others

Humor…

The Onion is also a favorite of mine. Reading the “funnies” is a ritual for me. Cartoons aren’t just for kids. The ones that I enjoy cause “outrage” as well as laughter. Sometimes one has to laugh to keep from crying. Some of my favorites sites:

1) Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling http://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug
Sample (10/28/11): Class Warfare - Lucky Ducky the Poor Little Duck Who’s Rich in Luck encounters The Houndsville Billionaires Club – Occupy Houndsville!

2) This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow http://thismodernworld.com/
Sample (12/30/11): 2011 Year in Review, Part the First and Part the Second

3) Tom Toles by Tom Toles http://www.gocomics.com/tomtoles
Sample (1/9/12): American Optimism 2012, There’s Democracy in here somewhere

4) Pat Oliphant by Pat Oliphant http://www.gocomics.com/patoliphant
Sample (1/11/12): Mittens and his father have some real fun!

Daryl Cagle’s The Cagle Post Cartoons and Commentary http://www.cagle.com/
has an extensive daily compilation of editorial cartoons from around the world.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy.” - Sayings of the Jewish Buddha

Fred Drumlevitch said...

It has probably been months since I last bothered to comment at the New Yok Times. Between their not “trusting” me, through their use of Facebook as “trusted commenter” validation, to the severe drop in permitted comment size from 5000 characters to only 1500 now (less than most of my better past comments), I’ve just lost any urge to participate (though perhaps I should, to possibly boost readership of my own blog from zero to a handful!). Arthur Brisbane’s “objectivity” missive implies I wouldn’t be missing that much if I also stopped reading the NYT.

The mass media mistakes Zee referenced occur because of reportorial ignorance combined with semi-suppressed agendas. (Everyone “knows” what a “clip” is. It's that small piece of springy metal that is slipped over a yellow No. 2 wooden pencil before inserting it into a "pocket protector"! And a “magnum” is a measure of liquid libations!)

Contrary to the standard textbook expectations for reporters, I actually don’t expect them to be opinion-free. The best reportage is more than a recitation of facts.

But I do expect reporters to be highly knowledgeable, and preferably over a broad (though not necessarily unlimited) range, so as to be capable of bringing reasonably accurate analysis and context to their reporting, and to do so in the manner of a good critic, who makes clear both the context of the current event and where he (or she) as a critic is “coming from”.

What we all too often see is the worst of both worlds: reportage done by reporters ignorant of basic facts and context, plus a deliberate suppression, done in the name of a mythical objectivity, of visible reportorial bias, which, however, doesn’t mean none is present, it just makes it more difficult to discern. Those problems aren’t new, but they probably are getting worse due to the economic and time pressures referenced by Charles Pierce, and the false equating of “delivery” with “reporting”, and “balance” with “objectivity”.

We live in an age of nearly universal news “spin”, from governments, corporations, organizations, and individuals, where there is not only a highly selective issuance of the raw information, but also a spin imparted on those facts that are delivered. Proper digestion of the intake, extraction of the nutritive essence, elimination of the waste, and incorporation of that which has value into the greater structure are all essential, whether it is a process occurring at the level of the human body, the media, or the body politic.

***************
I haven’t read the Tim Crouse book referenced by Pierce, but I’ll add it to a very long list of “to do” things. A different book of possible interest to Sardonicky readers: “Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op” by Kiku Adatto, 2008, Princeton University Press.

Zee said...

@James Singer & @Anne Lavoie--

I chose shoddy reporting on “guns” merely as a concise and easy-to-understand example of so-called reporters who fail to do their homework--a job that they are paid to do. If reporters are going to represent themselves as working in the public interest, then we darned well have a right to expect them to do their job responsibly.

I did not choose the example to advance the cause for the “gun lobby.” You impute a motive to me that doesn’t exist.

This simple example saved me from a lengthy explanation about myself, and why I have NO respect for reporters who don’t do the jobs they are paid to do. Talking too much about myself got me into serious trouble over at Reality Chex, and I was trying to avoid similar charges of “self-aggrandizement” here at Sardonicky. But here goes...

I had an almost-thirty-year career as a reasonably well-respected research scientist and analyst at a national laboratory. If you count grad school and post-doc, make that forty years as a scientist and analyst.

Not being a university professor or entrepreneur, I had some control over my areas of research, but I was often asked by my corporate masters to undertake projects that took me well outside my past educational and experiential “comfort zones.”

It’s much easier to be an expert in one area than it is to become an expert in many fields. Still, I felt that I had an obligation to the science and the taxpayer to do the best job I could. In each new undertaking, I did my best to become an expert in the field, and decided to prove that I had done so by publishing in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, in respected journals. It would have been very easy just to prepare an internal report with minimal internal review and leave it at that.

For those of you who haven’t done it, the peer review process, protected by anonymity, can be far more brutal than the worst flaming on any blog. One’s entire career--and self-respect--can be on the line.

So I did my homework--a job you taxpayers out there were paying me to do--and I published repeatedly in several different technical areas. Never once did a manuscript come back to me with the dreaded remark “Reject until major revisions are made” or, worse yet, “Reject without option to resubmit.” All manuscripts were accepted with, at worst, minor modifications or additions. I had done my homework.

So even if I’m not paying a reporter’s salary, because they claim to be acting in the public interest--protecting the public’s right to know and all that jazz--I expect them to do their homework, just as I did.


Both within the technical world and in the sphere of reporting (well beyond the world of “guns”), I have seen--and continue to see--the shabby results of diletante-ism, where individuals think that they can attend a technical meeting or two, read a book or two, and/or consult a self-selected expert or two, and thereby become “experts” themselves.

I resent it when I see it, and so should you.

Still, @Anne Lavoie and @James Singer, point well taken. I’ll leave the subject of guns alone in the future--even as a mere example related to some other topic--unless someone else brings up the subject or has a specific question for me.

Denis Neville said...

He Said, She Said Journalism and the View from Nowhere…

Jay Rosen’s quick definition: “He said, she said” journalism means…

• There’s a public dispute.
• The dispute makes news.
• No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the story, even though they are in some sense the reason for the story. (Under the “conflict makes news” test.)
• The means for assessment do exist, so it’s possible to exert a factual check on some of the claims, but for whatever reason the report declines to make use of them.
• The symmetry of two sides making opposite claims puts the reporter in the middle between polarized extremes.

http://archive.pressthink.org/2009/04/12/hesaid_shesaid.html

Complete objectivity is unattainable. It’s a goal worth striving for, but many think fairness a better goal. The “View from Nowhere” is Jay Rosen’s attempt to isolate the element in objectivity that we don’t need, and call attention to it.

http://pressthink.org/2010/11/the-view-from-nowhere

“The View from Nowhere is a bid for trust that advertises the viewlessness of the news producer. Frequently it places the journalist between polarized extremes, and calls that neither-nor position “impartial.” Second, it’s a means of defense against a style of criticism that is fully anticipated: charges of bias originating in partisan politics and the two-party system. Third: it’s an attempt to secure a kind of universal legitimacy that is implicitly denied to those who stake out positions or betray a point of view. American journalists have almost a lust for the View from Nowhere because they think it has more authority than any other possible stance.”

“The View from Nowhere has unearned authority in the American press…It also encourages journalists to develop bad habits. Like: criticism from both sides is a sign that you’re doing something right, when you could be doing everything wrong… if the View from Nowhere continues on, unchallenged, trust in the news media will probably continue to decline.”

As Rosen says about the “View from Nowhere,” “They have one curious quality about them - besides being bland…they lack soul.”

The Doktor said...

@Anne Lavoie;
I think you may have missed the forest for the trees... Zee's example exemplifies the exacerbation we experience as imbecilic embellishment replaces responsible reporting of recent events recalling reprehensible recalcitrance of racist reprobates only endeavoring to immanentize the eschaton.
... that is I disagree....

The Doktor said...

@James Singer;
I just left a website comment forum because of intolerance, please don't foist your intolerance on other posters. I happen to be an expert on cars and all things automotive, therefore those analogies come easiest to me. I extrapolate from my own experience, as most people do. @Zee draws analogies from his his vast experience in weaponry, he drew a reasonable analogous comparison to make his argument that reporting is in the shitter. Without using the word shitter. I don't mind the word shitter, some people do. Regardless- we have now drug our discourse into the shit , as it were.... was all that really necessary?
I'm just sayin'....

The Black Swan said...

And when the press lies and isn't held accountable? It is bad enough that they don't fact check, but when the baldly lie! This morning on NPR they stated that Ron Paul supported Iran's attempts at building nuclear weapons. There isn't a word of truth in this statement. Ron Paul does not support Iran attaining nuclear capabilities and Iran is not trying to acquire them! Leon Panetta even said so! So now the media will present stated lies in effort to be unbiased and will just flat out lie! It is reprehensible. NPR is my alarm clock and with reporting like this, I wake up every morning with my blood boiling and ready to attack the day.

Denis Neville said...

@ The Black Swan - You’re feeling Dean Baker’s pain.

“Dean [Baker] is exercised over an NPR report which says that Argentina is suffering from its 2001 default — a claim that is totally at odds with the evidence. Argentina actually did very well by thumbing its nose at creditors.” – Paul Krugman, “Legends Of The Rentiers,” The Conscience of a Liberal blog

It’s not just their zombie lies (which Baker regularly chronicles at Beat The Press)…

Bill Moyers on the lost mission of public broadcasting and its reliance on the political whims of Congress for some of its funding:

“Sometimes self-censorship occurs because you're looking over your shoulder, and you think, well, if I do this story or that story, it will hurt public broadcasting. Public broadcasting has suffered often for my sins, reporting stories the officials don't want reported. And today, only...a very small percentage of funding for NPR and PBS comes from the government. But that accounts for a concentration of pressure and self-censorship. And only when we get a trust fund, only when the public figures out how to support us independently of a federal treasury, will we flourish as an independent medium.”

http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2011/6/8/bill_moyers_on_his_legendary_journalism

Zee said...

@Fred Drumlevitch—

Thank you for your thoughtful remarks on today’s reporting and reporters.

Like you, I don’t expect that reporters can or should be totally objective.

(Heck, anyone who has ever been to a scientific meeting knows that the commonly-floated notion that scientists are—or can be—totally objective, dispassionate and unbiased is an utter fantasy, too. How often have I seen two scientists look at the same data set and see each interpret it as support for his/her pet hypothesis, which is totally divergent from the other’s!)

And again, like you—and, I suspect most participants in this forum—I, too

“expect reporters to be highly knowledgeable, and preferably over a broad (though not necessarily unlimited) range, so as to be capable of bringing [data or evidence], reasonably accurate analysis and context to their reporting, and to do so in the manner of a good critic, who makes clear both the context of the current event and where he (or she) as a critic is “coming from.” --@Fred Drumlevitch

Note my minor addition of the words “data or evidence.”

Instead, what we see all too often is “laziness,” to quote @The Doktor, or, worse yet, suppression of evidence—if not outright lies such as the one cited by @The Black Swan—in an effort to find support for a hidden agenda masked as “objectivity.”

@Denis Neville—thanks for the links to the PressThink articles, “He Said/She Said Journalism…”, and “The View from Nowhere,” both of which explain much about how we got to this point. I also found the cross-reference to the “Overton Window of Political Opportunities” from the former article to be very interesting.

Zee said...

Hi, Valerie--

I have indeed listened to Bill Moyers in the distant past, mostly on topics of faith and religion. As I recall, I was generally impressed by his thoughfulness even when I disagreed with him.

It appears that he will be premiering his new show on our local PBS affiliate, KNME Albuquerque, at 5:00PM tomorrow, Sunday the 15th.

I'll set the TIVO for a season pass.

Valerie said...

@Denis

Your quotes in the last month have been true gems. Thank you so much!

@Black Swan

Not only are these lies reported, they are then quoted over and over again as if they are a well-researched truth by other "news" sources.

It reminds me very much of the syndrome around 9/11 and the way Bush/Cheney always linked the terrorist attacks on the twin towers with Iraq and Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden with Saddam Hussein. If it is said over and over again, it starts to become accepted as truth by an undiscerning public.

I am very saddened by what I see as the fall of NPR and PBS. I wish they would just forgo the small amount of government support their receive - for once I wish the Republicans luck in their aspirations to cut funding for public radio and television - and go back to their true calling of fair, investigative journalism when it comes to reporting current events. I can only suggest that you go to Democracy Now for your news and make a pledge there. @Will turned me on to DN and I will never go back to mainstream news again.

Annie Oakley said...

I hate to admit it, but it's true. I never take shots at hot air balloons. There just isn't enough fun or challenge in it. But give me a nice little target sitting on someone's head and I can't resist.

There is a target I have my eyes on now - the psychology of guns. What fun! Think about a guest post about gun fetishes, gun addiction, obsession, and all the related issues of power, control, fear, and insecurity. But I wonder who will be brave, courageous, and trustful enough to use their real names on those comments or posts? Probably all the same brave, trusting, courageous people as now. So would that mean they are the ones who don't own guns and have nothing to hide, or fear? Hmmm.

This hick chick from the sticks is really looking forward to the day when we can robustly discuss what Obama once referred to as the people who 'cling'.

Yeehaw!

The Doktor said...

Allow me to introduce myself- to an extent;
I am a small business owner in a ridiculously right wing county in the south. I am technically a Civil Libertarian, but for the most part I'm a Progressive, who voted for Candidate Obama with high hopes for some real change in the way our country was governed... I took cold comfort in GWB's second term in the firm belief that 8 years of total idiocy and cronyism would shine a light so bright on the corrupt republican politicians of the day that they would be driven back under the rock they crawled out from underneath....
Miracle of miracles Barack won. In no small part because of McCains' cynical choice of a dumb as a post running mate and his senile attempt at grandstanding the bank bailout, which blew up in his face.
I liken the current batch of republican politicians to hardened criminals and the dems to their gullible sidekicks who go along for the ride and are surprised by the appearance of handcuffs when they get caught.
For the record I do not own a weapon or a gun. I grew up in a household that abused that 2nd amendment right.
I do not believe in a specific invisible man in the sky who controls and oversees all things great and small.
I do believe in a creator, but I think most ( read 99.9% ) people are too consumed with their own petty needs and grievances to ever focus long enough on anything else so as to be able to apprehend such an entity in any meaningful way.
I have a degenerative condition which causes me immense pain as I type or do almost anything, and I am now at my limit.
In closing I would like to thank our considerate host Karen Garcia for making this place available for us to post and communicate.

More later...

Thank You Karen!