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Read about Jay Rosen's book, What Are Journalists For?

Excerpt from Chapter One of What Are Journalists For? "As Democracy Goes, So Goes the Press."

Essay in Columbia Journalism Review on the changing terms of authority in the press, brought on in part by the blog's individual--and interactive--style of journalism. It argues that, after Jayson Blair, authority is not the same at the New York Times, either.

"Web Users Open the Gates." My take on ten years of Internet journalism, at

Read: Q & As

Jay Rosen, interviewed about his work and ideas by journalist Richard Poynder

Achtung! Interview in German with a leading German newspaper about the future of newspapers and the Net.

Audio: Have a Listen

Listen to an audio interview with Jay Rosen conducted by journalist Christopher Lydon, October 2003. It's about the transformation of the journalism world by the Web.

Five years later, Chris Lydon interviews Jay Rosen again on "the transformation." (March 2008, 71 minutes.)

Interview with host Brooke Gladstone on NPR's "On the Media." (Dec. 2003) Listen here.

Presentation to the Berkman Center at Harvard University on open source journalism and NewAssignment.Net. Downloadable mp3, 70 minutes, with Q and A. Nov. 2006.

Video: Have A Look

Half hour video interview with Robert Mills of the American Microphone series. On blogging, journalism, NewAssignment.Net and distributed reporting.

Jay Rosen explains the Web's "ethic of the link" in this four-minute YouTube clip.

"The Web is people." Jay Rosen speaking on the origins of the World Wide Web. (2:38)

One hour video Q & A on why the press is "between business models" (June 2008)

Recommended by PressThink:

Town square for press critics, industry observers, and participants in the news machine: Romenesko, published by the Poynter Institute.

Town square for weblogs: InstaPundit from Glenn Reynolds, who is an original. Very busy. Very good. To the Right, but not in all things. A good place to find voices in diaolgue with each other and the news.

Town square for the online Left. The Daily Kos. Huge traffic. The comments section can be highly informative. One of the most successful communities on the Net.

Rants, links, blog news, and breaking wisdom from Jeff Jarvis, former editor, magazine launcher, TV critic, now a J-professor at CUNY. Always on top of new media things. Prolific, fast, frequently dead on, and a pal of mine.

Eschaton by Atrios (pen name of Duncan B;ack) is one of the most well established political weblogs, with big traffic and very active comment threads. Left-liberal.

Terry Teachout is a cultural critic coming from the Right at his weblog, About Last Night. Elegantly written and designed. Plus he has lots to say about art and culture today.

Dave Winer is the software wiz who wrote the program that created the modern weblog. He's also one of the best practicioners of the form. Scripting News is said to be the oldest living weblog. Read it over time and find out why it's one of the best.

If someone were to ask me, "what's the right way to do a weblog?" I would point them to Doc Searls, a tech writer and sage who has been doing it right for a long time.

Ed Cone writes one of the most useful weblogs by a journalist. He keeps track of the Internet's influence on politics, as well developments in his native North Carolina. Always on top of things.

Rebecca's Pocket by Rebecca Blood is a weblog by an exemplary practitioner of the form, who has also written some critically important essays on its history and development, and a handbook on how to blog.

Dan Gillmor used to be the tech columnist and blogger for the San Jose Mercury News. He now heads a center for citizen media. This is his blog about it.

A former senior editor at Pantheon, Tom Englehardt solicits and edits commentary pieces that he publishes in blog form at TomDispatches. High-quality political writing and cultural analysis.

Chris Nolan's Spot On is political writing at a high level from Nolan and her band of left-to-right contributors. Her notion of blogger as a "stand alone journalist" is a key concept; and Nolan is an exemplar of it.

Barista of Bloomfield Avenue is journalist Debbie Galant's nifty experiment in hyper-local blogging in several New Jersey towns. Hers is one to watch if there's to be a future for the weblog as news medium.

The Editor's Log, by John Robinson, is the only real life honest-to-goodness weblog by a newspaper's top editor. Robinson is the blogging boss of the Greensboro News-Record and he knows what he's doing.

Fishbowl DC is about the world of Washington journalism. Gossip, controversies, rituals, personalities-- and criticism. Good way to keep track of the press tribe in DC

PJ Net Today is written by Leonard Witt and colleagues. It's the weblog of the Public Journalisn Network (I am a founding member of that group) and it follows developments in citizen-centered journalism.

Here's Simon Waldman's blog. He's the Director of Digital Publishing for The Guardian in the UK, the world's most Web-savvy newspaper. What he says counts.

Novelist, columnist, NPR commentator, Iraq War vet, Colonel in the Army Reserve, with a PhD in literature. How many bloggers are there like that? One: Austin Bay.

Betsy Newmark's weblog she describes as "comments and Links from a history and civics teacher in Raleigh, NC." An intelligent and newsy guide to blogs on the Right side of the sphere. I go there to get links and comment, like the teacher said.

Rhetoric is language working to persuade. Professor Andrew Cline's Rhetorica shows what a good lens this is on politics and the press.

Davos Newbies is a "year-round Davos of the mind," written from London by Lance Knobel. He has a cosmopolitan sensibility and a sharp eye for things on the Web that are just... interesting. This is the hardest kind of weblog to do well. Knobel does it well.

Susan Crawford, a law professor, writes about democracy, technology, intellectual property and the law. She has an elegant weblog about those themes.

Kevin Roderick's LA Observed is everything a weblog about the local scene should be. And there's a lot to observe in Los Angeles.

Joe Gandelman's The Moderate Voice is by a political independent with an irrevant style and great journalistic instincts. A link-filled and consistently interesting group blog.

Ryan Sholin's Invisible Inkling is about the future of newspapers, online news and journalism education. He's the founder of and a self-taught Web developer and designer.

H20town by Lisa Williams is about the life and times of Watertown, Massachusetts, and it covers that town better than any local newspaper. Williams is funny, she has style, and she loves her town.

Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing at is a daily review of the best reporting and commentary on the presidency. Read it daily and you'll be extremely well informed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, former correspondent for CNN, has immersed herself in the world of new media and she's seen the light (great linker too.)

Micro Persuasion is Steve Rubel's weblog. It's about how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the business of persuasion. Rubel always has the latest study or article.

Susan Mernit's blog is "writing and news about digital media, ecommerce, social networks, blogs, search, online classifieds, publishing and pop culture from a consultant, writer, and sometime entrepeneur." Connected.

Group Blogs

CJR Daily is Columbia Journalism Review's weblog about the press and its problems, edited by Steve Lovelady, formerly of the Philadelpia Inquirer.

Lost Remote is a very newsy weblog about television and its future, founded by Cory Bergman, executive producer at KING-TV in Seattle. Truly on top of things, with many short posts a day that take an inside look at the industry.

Editors Weblog is from the World Editors Fourm, an international group of newspaper editors. It's about trends and challenges facing editors worldwide. keeps track of developments from the British side of the Atlantic. Very strong on online journalism.

Digests & Round-ups:

Memeorandum: Single best way I know of to keep track of both the news and the political blogosphere. Top news stories and posts that people are blogging about, automatically updated.

Daily Briefing: A categorized digest of press news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism.

Press Notes is a round-up of today's top press stories from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Richard Prince does a link-rich thrice-weekly digest called "Journalisms" (plural), sponsored by the Maynard Institute, which believes in pluralism in the press.

Newsblog is a daily digest from Online Journalism Review.

E-Media Tidbits from the Poynter Institute is group blog by some of the sharper writers about online journalism and publishing. A good way to keep up

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August 3, 2004

Bias Critics: Meet Newsroom Joe, Apolitical Man

Journalists who call themselves "moderates" in surveys are trying to agree with conservatives by declaring: "My political attachments should be irrelevant." And yet this self-report is jeered at, as if it had no significance. I think it does have significance, especially because there's another theory out there: political leanings shoud be transparent. This column ran in Editor & Publisher last week.

Originally published by Editor & Publisher (Aug. 1, 2004 edition) as “Meet ‘Joe Moderate’.” See also E & P editor Greg Mitchell’s column, “Bias Numbers: Less Than Meets the Eye? Editor & Publisher devoted a chunk of resources—reporters time, editors’ columns, space in the magazine—to getting behind the bias debate by taking a hard look at a single question: are newsrooms too dominated by liberals? See “The Bias Wars,” by Joe Strupp with Shawn Moynihan and Charles Geraci. Also see this page of readers reactions.

By Jay Rosen

Editor & Publisher
August 01, 2004

When 54% of national journalists and 61% of local journalists decline the labels “liberal” and “conservative” and identify instead as moderates, according to the Pew Center, what are they really saying? It’s possible, I suppose, that they’re all Joe Lieberman Democrats or Arlen Specter Republicans, which would be the political reporter’s definition of a moderate. But it seems more likely they are making a statement, attempting to refute labels like “liberal” or “conservative.” The Pew survey left no slot for “those terms are not meaningful in my work.”

It’s not so much that all newsroom moderates stand in the middle, ideologically, as that many of them stand to one side of the premise that their personal ideology even matters — or should matter. Their numbers are unknown. These journalists develop a kind of apolitical interest in politics, and sometimes a “pox on all their houses” attitude (also called cynicism) about political parties, activists, issues, and operatives.

“The only way to look at a politician is down” has been called newsroom wisdom over the years, and it expresses a kind of savage neutrality that is not un-journalistic, but very much in the American newsroom’s grain. “Yeah, put me down for ‘moderate,’” can be a statement of disbelief.

On the believing side of journalism, where we also have to look, I have often heard it said with pride by newsroom inhabitants: “Worked with Joe on the city desk for 19 years and have no idea if he’s left, right, middle or upside down.” Pause for effect. “And I couldn’t care less.”

It is ridiculous for movement conservatives to roll their eyes at attitudes like this. The journalist hailing “Newsroom Joe” is actually calling on the right’s own wisdom. It’s like the “colorblind society.” According to many, admissions counselors can recognize color but agree to be “blind” to it, which conservatives certainly think is possible or they would not be recommending it so strongly in forum after forum.

Are judges not supposed to have an ideology? No, they’re not supposed to impose one on us. They are to bracket their own beliefs and judge the case on the law alone, the facts alone. And is this detachment-from-views possible, even though difficult? The Learned Right and the Movement Right, if I am hearing them correctly over many years of contest, say: Yes, possible. Desirable, too. The judges we appoint should all have that discipline.

Well, newsrooms have their version of that discipline. Some (and I am talking about a portion of the moderates in studies like Pew’s) strongly believe their political affiliation is not so much private as irrelevant — because a principle is involved: each case in the news judged on the facts alone.

That kind of statement should be taken more seriously in the bias wars. So many who have decided they don’t believe it also fail to study it. They see “moderate” as concealing the overwhelmingly Democratic cast in newsrooms.

But a lot of those moderates are trying to agree with conservatives in declaring: “My political attachments should play absolutely no role.” And yet this self-report is jeered at, as if it had no significance. I believe it does have significance, but we cannot know what that is without a) subtler studies taking seriously these “moderates,” and b) an interpretation of what “Newsroom Joe,” apolitical man, is saying.

For there is a counter-argument out there, and it’s sometimes journalist vs. journalist. This other view states that Newsroom Joe is wrong to think that where you’re coming from, politically, is irrelevant. On the contrary, it’s a helpful thing to know. If journalists are more up front about their affiliations and leanings, then their reporting and its truthfulness can more easily be judged. From this point of view, disclosure of one’s politics is not a sin. It makes the journalist more human, possibly more believable.

Several months ago, Dan Okrent, public editor at The New York Times, practiced disclosure in his inaugural column: “Draw a line from the Times’ editorials on the left side to William Safire’s column over on the right: you could place me just about at the halfway point. But on some issues I veer from the noncommittal middle. I’m an absolutist on free trade and free speech, and a supporter of gay rights and abortion rights who thinks that the late Cardinal John O’Connor was a great man. I believe it’s unbecoming for the well-off to whine about high taxes, and inconsistent for those who advocate human rights to oppose all American military action.”

Newsroom Dan reveals his political views (however “moderate”) but this lessens not at all his duty to be fair, honest, accurate, open to persuasion, and unreflexive in his thinking. Between Newsroom Dan and Newsroom Joe there is bound to be a debate worth watching. When are bias critics going to get interested in that?

After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…

See also PressThink: Editor and Publisher Wants Answers: Are Newsrooms Too Liberal? Very Tricky Question. (June 17, 2004)

Posted by Jay Rosen at August 3, 2004 11:13 AM   Print


It would be very interesting if all journalists, and I mean all, would go for an entire month of describing people, their attitudes and actions without ever using the words "liberal" and "conservative." I personally don't understand either word in context today. I get how they were used in previous decades, but somewhere in the 90's they became completely meaningless to me.

Posted by: Kelley at August 3, 2004 3:56 PM | Permalink

"For there is a counter-argument out there, and it's sometimes journalist vs. journalist. This other view states that Newsroom Joe is wrong to think that where you're coming from, politically, is irrelevant. On the contrary, it's a helpful thing to know."


I'm not sure how to say this without being too overly disrespectful...;-D

...A TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY BIASED WRITER can, in actual fact, report a fact which is factual.

The writing-off of a fact as biased-opinion, or slanted opinion, or un-truth.. Well, that is the primary cause of the echo-chamber effect.

The determination of the difference between fact and opinion...? Knowing personal things about the author doesn't make that question any easier. What knowing personal things about the author does is make it easier for the author to sell snake-oil. That's the PR value of blogging, and you just hafta ask The Scobleizer how to do this, as if you don't already know.

It's like in school, you tell people private things that you don't tell "your non-best friends", and that is one special aspect of a "best-friendship". Bloggers manipulate those instincts, some intentionally and some instinctually and some in spite of their best efforts to be "non-biased".

Journalists do to, if they're not capital-J journalists and/or yellow journalists. Bloggers.. with so few exceptions you could essentially say "without exception" "truthfully".. see that in the media, but can't look at another blogger with the same non-bias, for some "funny" reason...;-D

"If journalists are more up front about their affiliations and leanings, then their reporting and its truthfulness can more easily be judged. From this point of view, disclosure of one's politics is not a sin. It makes the journalist more human, possibly more believable."

That goes to my point above.

That's the primary skill of a snake-oil salesperson, making a lie seem believable. Like Dan Bricklin's supposed "article" on the DNC blogging.

Give ya a couple examples:

Go back and note the press on Dean, and you'll see those "journalists" who referred to him as "Dr. Dean", which leads one to believe that Dr. Dean isn't like the OTHER LAME-ASS POLITICIANS, but a DOCTOR fighting AGAINST THE POLITICIANS. (Which is why Gore's recommendation, imo/o, put the end to the facade.) Sure, you can point to a journalist that you know would NEVER vote for Dean, referring to him as "Dr. Dean".

That's either one pretty stupid journalist, or one trying to cover-up their anti-Dean bias, or one who is just imitating what other journalists have written.

The fact is Mr. Dean WAS a doctor, of course... Thaz a fact.

The interpretation of the fact...??? ??? What was your all's interpretation, at the time? Knowing the politics of the various and numerous writers effect that interpretation...??

Still the readers' call, afaik.

Another example, right from this article:

"Newsroom Joe" is a fictitious person, and "Newsroom Dan" is a real person. "Newsroom Dan" is not in quotes.

Which are we being led (or, rather, attempting to be led if notice the subtlety) to believe is the proper model?


Purely objective writing is mathematically impossible, I gather in my experience.

Beats crap outta lies and subtle "truths", but it takes effort to attempt to discern these things so why bother?

Posted by: JamesJayTrouble at August 3, 2004 4:02 PM | Permalink

"I get how they were used in previous decades, but somewhere in the 90's they became completely meaningless to me."

Same here. This is mostly intentional, afaik.

A couple causes: Voters WANTED an end to partisan paralysis. They were sick and tired of nothing getting agreed to in Congress.

The cynic in me recognizes that this also makes it convenient for both politicians and writers/speakers/commentators BOTH to just pretend there really IS NO DIFFERENCE.

Btw, in the days prior a Libertarian would-a been known as a "nut-case fringe 'thinking' kind of politician". These days it's popular, and is covered up by seeing them (or oneself, if you call yourself a Libertarian) as a "centrist" or "moderate" or any-a these other euphemisms (sp?).

Posted by: JamesJayTrouble at August 3, 2004 4:07 PM | Permalink

"A TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY BIASED WRITER can, in actual fact, report a fact which is factual."

This does nothing to dispute Jay's point, however.

Posted by: The One True b!X at August 3, 2004 10:05 PM | Permalink

Lecturers urged press secretaries to confront what one warned was "media that are no longer tilted in your direction." Bullying was openly encouraged. "When it comes to the media," suggested Democratic strategist James Carville, "intimidation works." "Challenge them," added David Brock of Media Matters, a new liberal group set up to criticize conservative media outlets. (H/T: Glenn Reynolds)

Hmmm ... intimidating journalists? Who'd have thought it possible? Why not just adopt?

Posted by: Tim at August 3, 2004 11:55 PM | Permalink

re: "Between Newsroom Dan and Newsroom Joe there is bound to be a debate worth watching. When are bias critics going to get interested in that?"

Sadly, they won't be getting interested in it because what you're proposing is the seeking of greater understanding of journalistic behavior. Ranting about news media bias fits the needs of ideological struggle--a rhetorical battle that allows no aid and comfort to the enemy.

Posted by: acline at August 4, 2004 12:47 AM | Permalink

It's been my experience that most of the people who make claims of media bias -- on the left and the right -- are themsleves ideologues. They tend to see everything in a frame of ideological warfare.

Good journalism is anti-ideological. It assaults people's idealized assumptions with what's actually happening in the world. So it's only natural, and ineveitable, that people with an ideological mindset will interpret this as an ideological bias against their side in the battle.

Posted by: John Perry at August 4, 2004 6:17 PM | Permalink

"This does nothing to dispute Jay's point, however."

It disputes the point that knowing an author's bias will aid in determining the difference between fact and opinion.

The difference between fact and opinion can only be see, factually, in hindsight. And not always then.

And writers, and this may come as a shock to bloggers who pretend otherwise, will try to pass off opinion as fact and cover-up any attempt to see through that. That'd be because writers are also people.

Bloggers are a subset, and somewhat different, class of writers. They, in general, are better at covering-up and also better at trying to pass off the view that opinion is superior to fact. In general...

Posted by: JamesJayTrouble at August 4, 2004 7:01 PM | Permalink

John Perry: Good journalism is anti-ideological. It assaults people's idealized assumptions with what's actually happening in the world.

Doesn't that assume that journalists should act as intellectuals engaged in democratic opposition? Wouldn't that be contrary to the neutral extension of the public square that Objective Journalism strives for today? And isn't it when journalists stray from that neutrality that the bias hunters find their prey?

Posted by: Tim at August 4, 2004 8:06 PM | Permalink

As a "Bias Critic" - an interesting expression itself - I will note some of the issues are repeating themselves in this blog.

There is a view that bias does not matter, that facts are facts and when reported, the discerning reader does not need to care about the politics or belief system of the writer.

There is a view that bias does not exist, with few exceptions, because most of the writers are "moderates."

There is a view that bias and passionate reporting, slanting the story as desired in an activist style, is fine.

Each of these views is true - and are denial of the problems inherent in bias.

In a way, the subject is no longer relevant. Those that cannot see the problem will lose their readership - down to the core of people who have the same worldview - and market share will dictate the winners of the bias wars.

However, for those that care, there are real effects of bias, and each of the above views seek in one way or another to rationalize or deny those effects - to the detriment of the reader - and the writer.

There are rapidly changing worldviews. The writing from a comfortable antiquated somewhat aloof view has been tolerable for years. The "Grey Lady" is more than a moniker. The name denotes a wise, comfortable grand-dame interpreting the facts for us.

Well, now the grand-dame does not have all of her marbles. She is somewhat less than connected to reality. Moreover, her interpretations do not fit. The explanations are dissonant. The strain to match observable reality to the stories from the grand-dame becomes great enough evoke puzzled "huh?" in the reading.

Facts are facts. There are so many of them. Pick some. Report on them. Your choice reflects your worldview. The reader's worldview will see the words you choose, and interpret them into their worldview.

Moderates self-describe as moderates because they see themselves as centrist. I am sure Lenin thought himself centrist. As did Attila.

The terms left-right, liberal-conservative, Dem-Repub, do in fact mean things, but are frequently put up as straw horses in the bias discussion. "I'm not biased because the term liberal doesn't mean anything."

The bias war is about having worldviews that change with the times, change with the realities, and pursue - never achieving - objective truths.

I will argue that this is the war, and that mainstream journalists are losing the war, busy denying that it is even occurring.

Posted by: John Lynch at August 4, 2004 9:37 PM | Permalink

And I would argue the opposite. Twistedly biased observers looking at facts they don't like to acknowledge and wanting something else to be true. Tough luck for you. The truth is always going to be your enemy. Long live that fact.

Posted by: Arnold Shapiro at August 4, 2004 10:40 PM | Permalink

Hi Mark!

I didn't say anything about not liking the facts. I like them so much that I want to see all of them. Not just those filtered through a belief system that is monotone.

A reporter with an agile mind, able to see the realities from as many viable worldviews that have currency. That would be a reporter worth following! Know any?

Posted by: John Lynch at August 4, 2004 10:47 PM | Permalink

Well! You are particularly well-reasoned today.

Is there a conspiracy? I'm scanning my writing to see where that was indicated. Hmmm. Can't find it.

I read several of Shafer's pieces. Not particularly bad, nor particularly good. That's your best shot? (at reporters with wide and diverse worldviews covering multiple POV on subjects?)

Posted by: John Lynch at August 5, 2004 11:19 AM | Permalink


The "tyranny of moderates" is a completely different subject. Conflating that tyranny with the tendency of people to self-describe as moderates or centrists is a not particulately artful dodge.

Posted by: John Lynch at August 5, 2004 11:24 AM | Permalink

But first, this message from the non-sponsor:

"Hi Mark!

'Scuse please, but either I'm blind.. you are hallucinating, or the Thought Police (and why is Blogaria SO AGAINST the Thought Police and SO FOR being the Thought Police themselves I've not yet managed to reason myself around...;-)..

Well, Mark's post (apparently) illucidated a FASCINATING (to me) response:

I didn't say anything about not liking the facts. I like them so much that I want to see all of them.

A strict definition of "all" would imply you are looking for Pure Objectivity, which is a faux-pas in Blogaria. Many have written on this (but incorrectly, because they use this as justification for why there bloggin' opinion is more important than any facts, and "there is no 'truth' in facts" and all that mumbo-jumbo.

Not just those filtered through a belief system that is monotone.

Oooops. Bias came out, and if you find news a monotone then you are tone deaf due to reading too many blogs. The LOUD BOMBASTIC VOLUME of blogs will do that, I've noticed. That's why I'll lay off entirely for periods, besides not having the LEISURE TIME some-a you all apparently have.

(Funny it hasn't been realized that blogging is an interesting use of leisure time, posing as education.. or, rather, not by many. Not all baaaad.. and not ALL just killing leisure time.. but it's called leisure time nonetheless, for a reason.)

A reporter with an agile mind, able to see the realities from as many viable worldviews that have currency. That would be a reporter worth following! Know any?"

The need for the mixing of viable worldviews is an interesting impossibility. I say "impossibility" because all worldviews are mixed (and mixed up to an extent, as you pointed out), regardless of whether they are viable or not.

What is personally revealing and interesting, to me, is that you are subsetting who you would possibly follow down to writers.

I wouldn't do that, but given a list of bloggers and a list of journalists solely to select from, and that'd be what-the-Great-'They'-call a non-brainer.

Notice the one essential ingredient of a blogger (besides having the leisure time) is wanting to be a thought-leader (in writing).

To lead the clerisy.

This following stuff is a novel idea, in Blogaria, but don't see much chance of it spreading around tho'.

That'd mess up the (supposed) non-hierarchical, wiki-like potential that all Net-citizens contractually signed up for when they started using a computer, according to a comment I recall from the World of Ends debacle, year ago.

You see, we are all identical and that rules out any possiblity that anybody would lead or follow, according to the mavens of these havens...

Posted by: JamesJayTrouble at August 5, 2004 1:44 PM | Permalink


Well, in among the literary? blather, you had a couple of points (I think.)

1) The fact that I want all of the facts, is not acknowledgement that I am going to get all of the facts. It is a refutation to the prior assertion that I dislike facts. In addition, the blog world is not central to my discussion of media bias. I am speaking of news reporting, not editorials, commentaries, or opinion columns. Blogs, while fun, are not news sources.

2) Monotone reporting comes from the same POV being memed from source to source. Even prior to my overindulgence with blogs (it is time consuming isn't it?) I had despaired at the monotony. I do find that if you keep switching, you can find the occasional piece that is not speaking from the same script. I believe it is called Meta-Narrative by some.

3)"A reporter with an agile mind, able to see the realities from as many viable worldviews that have currency. That would be a reporter worth following! Know any?" I think that is my point. I don't know any. Therefore, a press room should have more than one type of worldview engaged in the production of news? Nah.

Posted by: John Lynch at August 5, 2004 2:51 PM | Permalink


Literary...? Never been called that, so I take that as something of a back-handed compliment...;-) As I've noted, it was impossible for me to see the context in which your reply was made to one "Mark". So it turns out we agree more-or-less on point 1. I use blogs as news sources, however. VERY selectively. I treat them, generally, with MUCH MORE skepticism because they mix fact and opinion SO casually. And they psych the reader out with all the personal stuff. But there are occasional useful facts to be found.

Problem is the time, which is why the Technorati Police and "Social Network Software" pseudo-gurus are trying to build a perfect ranking system, so the best is forced to the top. Naturally, best would be bloggers to these fellow-bloggers, and the rankings are adjusted to skew the results in the WRONG direction, from everything I've read on Google, Technorati and such ranking "algorithms".

"Heard" that CNN interviewed the Technorati folks at the DNC, well-meaning that they both are attempting to be. This would be, to me, a major gripe. I didn't hear any of that interview, but somehow just doubt any of this was given any scrutiny by anyone, or it wouldn't continue as long as it has.

Points 2 and 3 however, are not in fact the case.

I spend more time reading reputable news than blogs, and it is hardly consistent. In fact, in my reading, it's often the case that right in the same article there are many conflicting views expressed. And between Reuters and AP and NYT and Washington Post and BBC (and I used to have time to read more international sources, but haven't lately)..

..well, you can say I'm getting one news source and a monotone. I observe otherwise. Give me a topic, and I'll get you entirely different versions of facts-as-they-exist, from these supposedly one-dimensional sources. The variation in pro-War and anti-War sentiments, pro-activist anti-activist on each individual case.. etc.

(Give me just about any complex issue, and I can get a diversity of opinion/facts from these sources, but it won't likely be all that exciting, and it won't all be the opinions that bloggers wanna hear, which is primarily their own and those that agree with them. So give me a topic if ya wanna, but not today...;-)

Posted by: JamesJayTrouble at August 5, 2004 5:13 PM | Permalink

Well put, even if I do not have your agreement on the sameness of views from the mainstream media.

I have developed a list of news source that is quite large in order to scan enough to satisfy me that I have most of the facts. I receive three papers daily at my home, two more weekly, and have a good dozen bookmarked in my browser. However, it does not invalidate my point on U.S. mainstream media when I read Le Monde, BBC, and Reuters to get additional points.

It does not change my position that most of the major U.S. outlets have consistent meta-narratives that they put their stories on given subjects within. They seldom report facts that would be inconsistent with their meta-narratives.

Bringing up specific examples is easy enough, but immediately sends one off in a debate about the ideology involved in the example and distracts from the point.

Posted by: John Lynch at August 5, 2004 7:25 PM | Permalink

Well, "Bernard," the point isn't whether there are liberal or conservative views, but that there are different views, and that there is bias in reporting on the views.

You may not like conservatives, but they are a significant part of the U.S. and have a worldview. It is not your view, I think you have made that clear. But, it does not mean that there is not such a view, and that it is a different view, and that many do not report stories or facts that do not support their own view.

That pesky liberal-conservative thing is but one form of bias. One could pick a half dozen more. The discusion here is not about your particular views, but the presence of bias, and the results to those that do not see it.

Posted by: John Lynch at August 5, 2004 8:24 PM | Permalink

I dunno, but I took "Bernard's" comment differently. When he said the examples would be telling, I thought he meant that just the choice of selection of the examples probably "sends one off in a debate about the ideology involved in the example and distracts from the point."

Dunno if that's what Bernard meant but that's my take on the theory of eliminating bias in reporting, which is it's not as easy as it looks, and the ("pesky"...;-) reader is gonna supply their own bias anyway, and miscomprehend if they wanna "try hard enough".

Not saying bias should be encouraged though, even though it's unavoidable on both ends of the communication pipeline (although there is no such-a thing as any communication pipeline with only two ends, actually).

Posted by: JamesJayTrouble at August 5, 2004 9:29 PM | Permalink

Reporters are people. I think you pointed that out earlier. Of course, they carry their biases, Points-of-View, and prejudices with them.

On most subjects - who cares? If there is not a collective groupthink happening, then one article will be biased in one way, another in another. No net effect, just "noise" that can be safely ignored.

If there is groupthink happening, and like-mindedness to the presentation of stories in some sort of meta-narrative, then the random static of bias actually moves the needle on the reception.

Certainly, bias must be both present in the written word, and perceived by the reader in order for it to be bias.

Certainly if the reader is in agreement with the POV, then there is no bias.

If however, a significant portion of the mainstream media sees things, filters things, and are self-referentially rewarded by their peers to support a meta-narrative, and there is a significant population that does not buy the narrative, then there will be cries of bias.

This comes back to my earlier points. There are many worldviews. Some of them are valid and current worldviews. The mainstream media have self-selected worldviews. The public is at the least divided, and do not buy the worldview that the press have.

This is not simply left-right, liberal-conservative, Dem-Repub. There is also pro/anti war, internationalist-and less so, military critical or supportive, ...

Some of it is superheated due to the partisan times, but this has been happening for over a decade, and is growing year-by-year according to the surveys.

Posted by: John Lynch at August 5, 2004 11:54 PM | Permalink

Oh, BTW, "Bernard" or Mark, and sometimes by other names, has a bit of a history on this blog. I think his comment, now missing, refered to his belief, based on earlier dialogs, that I am a rabid, non-reasoning, deny-the-facts-because-I-don't-like-them, narrow-minded conservative.

I think I said something he didn't agree with.

Posted by: John Lynch at August 6, 2004 12:02 AM | Permalink

Newsroom Joes?

Posted by: Tim at August 6, 2004 2:57 PM | Permalink


"If however, a significant portion of the mainstream media sees things, filters things, and are self-referentially rewarded by their peers to support a meta-narrative, and there is a significant population that does not buy the narrative, then there will be cries of bias."

Btw, I'm not here to change your views on whether "most of the major U.S. outlets have consistent meta-narratives that they put their stories on given subjects within."

I read news and I see a very INconsistent presentation of "the facts". I frequently see this within the same article, which I presume is normally just a blundered attempt at "balanced reporting".

But when you're talking a blind, consistent meta-narrative and you're talking journalism and blogs, then you're talking about jumping from the fire into the pan.

How about the meta-narrative that blogs are a totally new and totally unique form of journalism??

It's endless.

Now you can obviously point to a variety of political opinion in all the blogs, but it's opinion based in the same fundamentally ungrounded assumptions.

Among them, that people that read the most know the most, and should be running the world. (I recall Joi Ito (featured in AP or Newsweek or somebody's write-up on blogs, btw) blogging that "12 people (ie bloggers) organized properly could run the world" (approx) a couple years back or so. And it didn't raise even an eyebrow, at the time. Nor did Joi Ito's $3500 cell-phone bill he got one month, iirc, for some reason. But I digress.)

"If there is not a collective groupthink happening, then one article will be biased in one way, another in another. No net effect, just "noise" that can be safely ignored."

I'm afraid that IS what is happening, but the effect of blogs does not, in actual fact, net out.

Or the Trippi-D Crusade wouldn'a netted $50 MILLION from poor grandmother's (according to Trippi himself) amongst others. (We'll probably never find out WHO all contributed to the Dean Campaign, from what country, nor whether "insurgents" around the world funneled money into the campaign or not, btw.)

"If there is groupthink happening, and like-mindedness to the presentation of stories in some sort of meta-narrative, then the random static of bias actually moves the needle on the reception."

You would think so, but there's no better example of groupthink than Blogaria.

And, unfortunately, you WAY underestimate the efficacy of bloggers as PR instruments, John. They may be amatuers in all respects, but that doesn't mean they aren't good at what they do, just that it isn't journalism.

Posted by: JamesJayTrouble at August 7, 2004 11:43 AM | Permalink

Candidate Speeches: No Room for Cheering or Jeering


The role of the journalist at a campaign speech is well prescribed if we are “on duty,” covering the event. No display of partisanship. We observe, we listen, we ask questions, we write and we report. Even those journalists who write opinion pieces do not behave with partisanship.
But what about when the journalists are in the audience at a campaign speech given to a group of journalists, as with Kerry and Bush this week at Unity.

Posted by: Tim at August 7, 2004 9:01 PM | Permalink

I'm outraged at Bush hate, and how the Leftist media refuses to examine so many facts that don't fit the Bush is bad line.

Bush isn't really running against Kerry -- he's running against the Bush-hate Anybody But Bush figurehead. I just wrote more on about this; Lileks call it Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome.
(I don't think it's sudden!) Peggy Noonan thinks the country is ready for "normal" times, is "tired"; I think it's tired of Leftist press bias against Bush.

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