Friday, January 13, 2006

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I'm asserting that you should read this

The Project for Excellence in Journalism, an institute affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has released its State of the News Media 2005 online.

Here's a link to the executive summary, in which five trends are delineated. Here are two of them:

There are now several models of journalism, and the trajectory increasingly is toward these which are faster, looser, and cheaper. The traditional press model—the Journalism of Verification—is one in which journalists are concerned first with trying to substantiate facts. It has ceded ground for years on talk shows and cable to a new Journalism of Assertion, where information is offered with little time or attempt to independently verify its veracity. Consider the allegations by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” and the time lag of weeks required in reporting to find the claims were unsubstantiated. The blogosphere, while adding the richness of citizen voices, expands this culture of assertion exponentially, and brings to it an affirmative philosophy: publish anything, especially point of view, and the reporting and verification will occur afterward in the response of fellow bloggers. The result is sometimes true and sometimes false. Blogs helped unmask errors at CBS, but also spread the unfounded conspiracy theory that the GOP stole the presidential election in Ohio. All this makes it easier for those
who would manipulate public opinion—government, interest groups and corporations—to deliver unchecked messages through independent outlets or their own faux-news web sites, video and text news releases and paid commentators....

The rise in partisanship of news consumption and the notion that people have retreated to their ideological corners for news has been widely exaggerated. A year ago we mentioned a third, older form of news regaining momentum—the Journalism of Affirmation. Here the news is gathered with a point of view, whether acknowledged or not, and audiences come to have their preconceptions reinforced. In 2004, this notion gained new force when Pew Research Center survey data revealed that Republicans and conservatives had become more distrustful of the news media over the past four years, while the perceptions of Democrats, moderates and liberals had remained about the same. This led to the popular impression that independent journalism was giving way to a European style partisan press, in which some Americans consume Red Media and others Blue. The evidence suggests this perception is grandly overstated. The overwhelming majority of Americans say they prefer an
independent, non-partisan news media. So, apparently, do advertisers and investors. In addition, distrusting the media does not correlate to how or Not only do Republicans and Democrats consume most news media outlets in similar levels, but those in both parties who distrust the news media are often heavier consumers of these outlets than those who are more trusting. The only exceptions to this are talk radio and cable news, where Republicans
have tended to congregate in one place, Fox. For most other media, the political orientation of the audience mirrors the population. The political make up of the network news audience, for instance, matches that of the Weather Channel.

I'll leave the assertive responses to this report to the commentators.

posted by Dan on 01.13.06 at 12:01 PM


The idea that there is a rise in partisanship is a disingenuous dig at blogs, fox, etc. In fact reporting is, and has always been partisan. Just take a gander at news reporting in 1862. Only recently has the idea that reporters are paragons of neutrality been some kind of sanctimonious priviledge of those who think they know what is better for me than I do therefore what is best is neutral and objective. This is a farce.

Just let reporters and anchors, and the lot let us know where they stand. Then they can go ahead and put their message any way they want and we can be informed and filter any way we want.

Until this occurs reportage credibility will continue to slide

posted by: Epaminondas on 01.13.06 at 12:01 PM [permalink]

I agree with the first comment here...
As a conservative consumer of mainstream news for decades, I've gotten sick and tired of their liberal bais, which was bad enough 20 years ago, but has gotten progressively worse and worse. In the past, there was no alternative so I just had to 'take it', reading the New York Times the way the Russians used to read Pravda, for 'clues' to the real story underneath ("Hmm, they say this proposal is 'controversial', must be a good idea").

It is said:

"The overwhelming majority of Americans say they prefer an
independent, non-partisan news media. "

Yes, we'd like that ideal, but the liberal news media kept creating a myth that they met that standard. Nope, they weren't even close, and once-biased-but-reasonable news outlets like the New York Times have become near-self-parodies of liberal bias day-in and day-out. No wonder their credibility and stock price are both way down.

The internet and competition is a good thing. It has exposed the MSM's underlying flaws.

"Just let reporters and anchors, and the lot let us know where they stand. "

Yup. We now KNOW where they stand, thanks to blogs, media critics and alternative venues for news, it's become crystal-clear on a case-by-case basis. This doesnt 'create partisan news' it merely reflects opening up things that were under the

It's time for them to simply admit the reality and end the farce that most of these outlets are not biased. They are.

posted by: Patrick on 01.13.06 at 12:01 PM [permalink]

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