promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Posts Tagged ‘independent media’

The illusion of media objectivity and the illusion of media partisanship PART I

In media on November 4, 2009 at 1:37 am

The recent “feud” between Fox News and the White House is more than a little ridiculous. Everyone, save the few Texans still driving around with “Viva Bush!” bumper stickers, realize that Fox News is really Fox Opinion.

By attacking Fox News, the White House is only furthering the myth that the mainstream media is or should be unbiased. But should the news really be fair and balanced?

Charleston City paper’s Jack Hunter and author of the blog, The Southern Avenger, points out that Fox News has never been “ ‘objective journalism,’ but neither is MSNBC, CNN, or every other corporate outlet that disseminates politically-biased disinformation.”

In his recent post, Hunter argues against The Myth of Objective Journalism and actually advocates the use of bias, opinionated journalism. He points out that:

“Before the 20th century, people got their information from newspapers that were explicitly Whig or Tory, Democrat or Republican, and which would engage in nakedly partisan public battles, leaving objectivity to the mind of the reader. Newspapers served the political and corporate interests of those who owned them and everyone knew it.”

Hunter goes on to declare that “There can be no true objective journalism because there are no truly objective human beings.”

Hunter is correct that news can never be truly bias free as it’s told by bias reporters and editors. Deciding what stories run, what their headlines are, and what content is included in them all reflect the personal opinions of the editors and reporters. But does that mean the media shouldn’t at least try to be fair and balanced? I’m not so sure.

Hunter points to the liberal Noam Chomsky who “has argued that the illusion of media objectivity has led to major news outlets becoming the instruments of government and corporate interests rather than society’s watchdogs, investigative journalism’s alleged purpose.”

In Hunter and Chomsky’s opinion, this illusion has served to further the agendas of the powerful — whether it be those in Washington D.C. or in the boardroom. However, the real question is whether or not the illusion is intentional.

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The illusion of media objectivity and the illusion of media partisanship PART II

In media on November 4, 2009 at 12:38 am

In my humble opinion, the push for an “unbiased” media is intentional. While smaller, non-mainstream media and local media strive to provide fair coverage and unbiased reporting, the media conglomerates that own CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and others barley try, if at all, to conceal their bias’. Whether it’s Bill O’Reilly labeling liberals as “pinheads” and conservatives as “patriots” or  MSNBC’s recent promo “Watch MSNBC, and experience the power of change,” the mainstream media’s claim of objective reporting is laughable.

But does the average American really believe his network of choice to be “fair and balanced?” The fact that Americans have a preference as to what news source they listen to is proof bias exist. Conservatives trust Fox because Fox tells them what they already believe and what they want to believe. Same goes for the liberals. 

For this reason, I disagree with Hunter’s conclusion. Hunter decides that both left and right news sources should embrace their role as partisan watchdogs and shamelessly attack the other side. He concludes that:

“As the Democrats proceed with arguably the most ambitious big government agenda in history, conservatives should hope for a more explicitly partisan Fox News — completely on the outs with the president — that might monitor that ‘center of power’ that is Obama’s Washington, D.C. MSNBC and CNN certainly aren’t going to do it. Fox should do to Obama what MSNBC and CNN should have done to Bush — attempt to cripple the president’s agenda by actually reporting on it.

Forget objectivity; how about some actual productivity, in which partisan media outlets might finally do a competent job of keeping an eye on the other party?

And far from being offended by the recent White House snub, Fox News should do America a favor by embracing its explicitly partisan role as an enemy of Obama’s state.”

Hunter’s naivety lies in the fact that he believes these mainstream news sources to be watchdogs. Fox News is not “Obama’s enemy of the State.” True, Fox News’ reporters are constantly attacking the President and his “liberal” policies, but their rhetoric does little more than inflame the emotions of knee-jerk conservatives. Words like communism, socialism, and liberalism and criticism aimed at Nancy Pelosi and leading Democrats, do little to actually inform the public.

Rather, Fox News, like its competitors, meets a demand. And the way in which it meets the demand does not lead to meaningful, intellectual discovery by its viewers.

The same was true for Keith Olbermann and the rest of the “liberal” media during the Bush years. While Olbermann was justified in many of his railings against the Bush administration, his reporting did little to serve the intellect of the American people. More importantly, Olbermann helped to further draw the imaginary lines between left and right and perpetuate MSNBC’s  facade as a partisan media watchdog.

If Americans truly desire unbiased reporting, good luck. Such a source does not exist. But if Americans want to discover the “real” news — that which they are not being told, they need to turn off their TV’s and search for small, independent news sources. The internet has opened the door to a plethora of such sources. Like these independent news sources, local media would be doing itself and the public a favor if it embraced its role as a true, admittedly bias, watchdog.