October 8, 2004
Satullo Responds: "Bloggers, Journalists, Can't We All Just Get Along?"
Chris Satullo, editorial page editor of the Philly Inquirer, responds to the big discussion at PressThink about his op-ed on bloggers and journalists. "Public life goes well when elections are about the issues most on the mind of the electorate, when the voters voice helps frame the choices and the debate, and the candidates are required to respond to that voice."
Background… Chris Satullo wrote in with these reactions to my Oct. 4th post, Political Jihad and the American Blog: Chris Satullo Raises the Stakes and to the extended discussion in comments. That post was itself in reaction to this earlier op-ed: Chris Satullo, Cries of ‘media bias’ hide sloppy thinking (Philadelphia Inquirer, Sep. 26, 2004.)
The Best Approximation of Accuracy Possible in a Given Moment
by Chris Satullo
Good Lord, what a lot of words over 668 words done in two hours (thanks for the word count, Jay). I mention the two hours because I find so much of the talking about “bias” and “journalism” ignores what writers for newspapers actually do: Do the best they can to think straight and write straight in too little time with facts that are too sketchy for any sane person to think they constitute “truth.”
We try to get the best approximation of accuracy possible in a given moment in the time allowed. Do we sometimes, under that pressure, fall back on reflexes and group think that is an unacknowledged, fuzzy form of bias? Of course we do. As I tried to make clear, we screw up and give critics ammunition every day.
But what I find so discouraging, as a person who knows newsrooms have to get a lot more serious and vigilant about how bias actually infects work, are the confident and utterly false assumptions of outside critics who are themselves thoroughly ideological and biased. Being people who submit all reality to the filter of their set system of beliefs, they assume reporters are just like them and must be doing the same thing. In fact, reporters tend to be quite nonideological and unreflective about political ideas; when we commit bias, it is a thought-less act, not a thoughtful, premeditated one.
By the way, and I remind everyone it was only 668 words (thanks again, Jay) I apparently was not clear to everyone. So let me be Nixonly clear: What when I talked about the Orwellians, I was not denoting bloggers in toto or even in particular.
Someone wanted me to name names. Happy to. Bozell is a good one. To be fair and balanced, I find lefty web sites like takebackthemedia equally sloppy. A lot of what I’m talking about are not bloggers at all, but the political operatives and email pests who have taken up the bias chant as a form of intimidation and harassment of journalists.
Try writing about Israel in Philly and you’ll get a taste of what I mean. We get hammered incessantly by the Zionist Organization of America (site) on one side, Palestine Media Watch (site) on the other. For my sins, God based both of them in Philly. If you sit down and listen to their close textual analysis of your awful sins, you will occasionally recognize a lapse or sloppy thinking in your work. But don’t mistake this for a conversation with people who want or could define good journalism. They want only coverage that supports, 100 percent and down the line, their world view and propaganda.
For my sins, God also gave me Ed Herman, a lefty old Penn prof who fulminates on Inkywatch.org about my disgusting failure to run the Inquirer opinion pages as a daily version of the Noam Chomsky Report. (See this.) Ed, too, in my view is an Orwellian.
Finally, “public life go well.” Jay, you know I blame you for this. It’s your damn phrase. And, wow, I didn’t think it would still be so misunderstood after all these years. Public life going well — could the ideological among you possibly accept that this concept does not have a shred of partisan ideological content to it? It’s only ideology is democracy.
Public life goes well when people have multiple, useful forums to identify the problems that affect their lives together in community, when their dialogue is civil and robust, and leads to the hope of solutions. Public life goes well when people know about and know how to use the instititions that are civic glue of the community. Public life goes well when elections are about the issues most on the mind of the electorate, when the voters voice helps frame the choices and the debate, and the candidates are required to respond to that voice. Journalists do not define “go well” as a set of policies; they do not presume sole responsibility for “go well.”
I said “help” go well; not dictate go well. Obviously blogs can help it go well; christ, even talk radio could help it go well. (By the way, why talk augustly of “the press,” one young skeptic asks? Perhaps because it’s the only craft specifically protected by a constitutional amendment?)
Bloggers, journalists— As Rodney said, why can’t we all just get along? He concluded plaintively.
After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…
Chris Satullo, Citizens raise their voices about Philadelphia. (Sep. 28, 2003)
Posted by Jay Rosen at October 8, 2004 8:59 AM
Being people who submit all reality to the filter of their set system of beliefs, they assume reporters are just like them and must be doing the same thing...
So reporters are superhuman then? I mean, seriously, anyone who honestly thinks that their thought process is different than this is simply deluding themselves. So, we're full circle back to where we started. You claim to not have bias, i.e. a human perspective on events based on your beliefs and experience. We point out that this is false. You say that it is your critics, or at least the bad, naughty "Orwellian" critics who are rude enough to point out this fact, who are biased. Arrogant, self-serving pap.
Public life goes well when elections are about the issues most on the mind of the electorate
A large part of the electorate found John Kerry's behavior in Viet Nam, and his Senate testimony and lies about it afterwards to be a compelling campaign issue. Yet, gatekeepers in the MSM, including Professor Rosen, the erstwhile champion of "citizen's journalism, unilaterally deemed any such discussion to be a "smear campaign". Professor Rosen even performed the neat trick of refusing to discuss the veracity of any of the charges against Kerry because to do so would be to buy into the "smear campaign".
Journalists do not define "go well" as a set of policies
Gimme a break. Do you mean to tell me that there are significant numbers of MSM journalists who do not assume that some of the following policies are the very definition of things "going well"?:
-A high rate of taxation on "the rich"
-Lots of money going to public schools and the defeat of any alternative for education such as voucher systems and charter schools
-A high degree of regulation on big business
-No wars unless they are promulgated by a Democrat, are in no conceivable way in the national interest, and preferably involve helping Muslims (Bosnia)
-Democrats in power
Someone wanted me to name names. Happy to. Bozell is a good one.
Please. Bozell's stuff involves numbers, hard data, quotes. Stuff like that. You don't like it because he was the first guy to challenge you and he started a whole movement against you. I don't agree with all of his critiques and I haven't followed stuff he's done recently that much, but calling him "Orwellian" for pointing out a lot of obvious truths many of which have been belatedly granted even by some in the MSM is a real cheap shot.
And this whole "Conservatives hate me and raving communists hate me too so I must be doing a great job" is a really lame, tired schtick. The example you give is reporting of Israel/Palestine issues. One side is a legitimate nation/state which for all of its faults is the only democracy in the Middle East and has a free press. The other is a thugocracy and a kleptocracy which communicates through propaganda. If you play it down the middle, and accept the statements of a country which has freedom of the press and self-criticism as being on a par with the propaganda of a terrorist run authoritarian non-state that has neither that is a huge moral failing. Common sense would dictate that you would put more stock in statements from the Israeli side simply because there is more free media there to check and a more transparent society. Yet you pat youself on the back and call yourself non-biased because you piss off advocates of both sides equally. Pathetic.
And this is only one of a zillion examples of this type of thinking which I see journalists engage in.
I fully realize you'll ignore the above because the tone and diction were not elevated enough and not indirect and nuanced enough, but I think there's some substance there. Maybe. Who knows.
The purpose of capitalism is to make the economy work better. The fact of the matter is that many, many people have an innate distrust of these type of grand, do-gooder projects and the broad mandates they always end up giving to unelected, unaccountable individuals (aka capitalists and entreprenuers), not to mention the unintended consequences that always result. The "nourish the economy" thing is a politically loaded point-of-view. The fact that many think it isn't only says something about their politics.
Amazingly, unless they're corrupt, capitalists think that what they are doing is making the economy run more efficiently through things like better service, lower prices, or new products, to mention just a few. It is hard to imagine their arrogance; taking it upon themselves to define their role in society, but doing so in a way that makes their role as grandiose and powerful as possible.
Can't they just buy, sell and make things without having some grand paradigm of what it's all for in their heads? Why can't the consumers simply decide on the worth and the role of their work product?
Oh, wait a minute, that is how capitalists work. Although they probably realize, if they are good businesspeople, that their decisions are part of a grand system of economics called capitalism and that their decisions contribute, overall, to an efficient economy. Though many capitalists will make bad decisions, overall, things generally get better.
And, so, why isn't that how journalism works? On a day-to-day basis journalists just try to get a story or two out. They try to put out the stories they think the people want or need, just as capitalists try to produce what they think the people want or need. Sometimes they're right (Ford Mustangs), sometimes they're wrong (Ford Edsels).
Why can't we see journalism in a similar fashion?
Partially in response to the "under-educated" here and partially in response to #89 or #90, depending on which posts are deleted where.
May I be allowed to answer my own question, somewhat subtly and indirectly?
"We'll see what we see."
a...;-) Even terrorists enjoy "partying it down"..:
..'n git back up agin...!!!!
..jes like you 'n me, in actual fact even more than you and me put together, right? "Riiiiiiiiiiight!"
2...;-) This is not necessarily PRopaganda, designed to sway the election and diss-favor those who they are (setting high expectations and) pretending to compliment.
c...;-) A group that not only claims but is proud of it's value-system but has (and at least takes) "responsibility for some of Iraq's deadliest suicide bombings, as well as the beheading of several foreign hostages, including American businessman Nicholas Berg, South Korean translator Kim Sun-Il and U.S. civil engineers Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley." Well, they may or may not have also beheaded Mr. Bigley, and they might want to seek a win-win situation.
Iow, civilians who have no power to get rid of Talwid and Jihad are one thing. Civilians who pretend to like Talwid and Jihad to save their skins are another. Civilians who are neither tend to be Doctors in Fallujah, apparently, according to reports from The PRess. And those civilians who actually DO like this group, but pretend they don't..
..well, they probably think it's a plan of monotheism to load up the holiest of sites, according to my partial-understanding of Islam, with megatons of ordinance as part of the plan to blow up representations of "false idols". That must be why all these bad things happen in good places.
(Some might note that Mr. Muktada al-Sadr, the Grand Ayatollah, the Iraqi government, and the Coalition Forces have left ALL these standing (so far, and it's not ALL luck), but some might not.)
Likewise some might note that the U.S. Soldiers (brave men and women, all), as well as the Soldiers of other nations (brave.. you know...) are as respectful of Islam as any fighting force the world has ever seen, past or present (and hopefully future).
Other's might note that if you're failing this test, you'd be a leader of Democracy and should be allowed to decide who gets to vote or not, according to some here on this very blog. That'd be one-a the differences between blogging and journalism, which is that there is little difference anymore.
4...;-) All of the above.
E...;-) None of the above.
6...;-) Other. (Part of my individual "other" is 'can I present some humor with these political views?', but eye of beholder and all...;-) Gotta quit here as hex characters only go so far.
Still ask the original question:
Silence can be interpreted, as well as misinterpreted, incorrectly just like words can be.
"Mister J Trouble: I would rather that you do not commence commenting"
That'd be your idea of freedom of speech, I presume.
"since last time it was 85 percent acid. I truly have doubts that it would be any different this time,
I believe, but do not know for a fact, that your precision is wildly exaggerated: 85% or 15% or 50%, and you non-arbitrarily pick 85%, I gather... No matter.
You would presume to know the truth of the matter, although I've read through your reply to me once, and so already know you'll attempt to contradict my truth here. You see my post above, and you do not want me to reply to you, so you work backwards towards knowing what I'm going to do.
That it is incorrect is no surprise, to me. Although, of course, you can read through this very post right here and decide "see, I told you all so, it is 85% acidic"... As the following is also incorrect, as well as 85% if that's the beholding of your eye:
"although I can't say I "know" what you would or would not do. I know these threads can be rendered barren and useless by the over-actions of a single person."
A single person can decide for everyone else what is barren and useless.
Isn't that more-correct, and what you said much-less-correct.
That's why you like blogs, because you get to decide what is published in your "pseudo-magazine", with no input from anybody but yourself.
Excuse me, I'll leave that mistake in.
You probably get plenty of input, through private email especially, as well as some which may follow publically on this thread. I'd be VERY surprised (if this non-conversation goes on for a length of time) if you don't get plenty of input from the likes of Doc Searls and Dave Winer, to name a few of those waging asymetric warfare against (not truth but), me and/or my views.
However, you get to try and you get to make the sole, final, judgment and execute that judgment, because this is a blog, not-journalism, iow.
Iow, no checks and balances, similar to how journalism is losing it's checks-and-balances, btw. I can back that up, but that's the part you don't want me to write.
You actually wish i would make these posts so acidic that You and "Your People" think i'm talking and walking and taking lysergic-acid dyethylmide (mis-spelt), right???
Have I given you that out, are you just gonna take the out, and ban me, Dr. Rosen?
We'll see what we see.
"That was happening last time."
According to you and your gang, I'm sure it was. I'm sure I could find supporters, but I don't spend energy looking for them.. don't have the time.
"Truth is threads are easy to destroy."
Excuse me, Dr. Rosen, but truth is not easy to see. You may presume otherwise, of course. But if you accept that "truth and wisdom" is not so easy to see that it's jes like finding gold on the yellow brick road to Ozmandias..
..well, if you accept it's not as easy as you want to believe, then you'll find it pretty easy to accept that it's not that easy to destroy as you would like to believe, in this particular case.
You don't want me to destroy YOUR TRUTH, Dr. Rosen, which is that journalism is a religion. I can, and will if permitted, destroy that "truth" just like Mr. bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zarawhri (indirectly, through pawns like us,) the World Trade Center and (partially) the Pentagon of the government of the American People.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you, and tell everyone that."
I'm not so sure you are all that sorry about protecting your religion, which is journalism based on your self-inspired notions. No, but I'm willing to be convinced, although I suspect you will not give either of us the opportunity to discuss this much further.
That's based on the truth that Mr. Barlow, THE PREEMINENT PROTECTOR OF INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES (and I mean not one drop of sarcasm in that, being all caps because we share these principles, although we practice it quite differently)..
..well, if Mr. Barlow can decapitate the "truth" and/or my posts depending on how you view me personally, mostly, then who is not susceptible?
Mr. Barlow is an exceptionally principled and a very strong man (and I'd say the same if s/he was a woman, if he acted as s/he has throughout her/his life). Thus, I do not hate Dr. Weinberger nor Dr. (I presume) AKMA, nor BurningBush, nor ScriptingNews-less, nor any other Batman/Robin combo of folks that got their heads together and decided banning a person (to preserve the community from my views) would be justifiable.
Shoot, I don't even have the energy to hate Jim Hill and Robert Reed, so no, I do not hate people for sucumbing to human nature.
However, I sure don't try to justify a decapitation of words, any more than I'd try to accuse the Bush Administration of .01 of what The PRess does, either.
I exaggerated, perhaps. One-one-hundredth may be either too much or too little, I dunno.
"A style that is relentlessly caustic, about all things, at all times, at a drop of a hat, and 90 percent opaque about all things, at all times, can be afforded if it's once every 15th post. When it's four out of five posts your forum is doomed. If you can keep it to the former, JJT, then I won't sqwawk. Am I happy? No. I'm glum that I have to police it."
You'd be implementing the thought-police-state that you claim you are boldly fighting, extraordinarily along the lines for Mr. Barlow and Robert Reed, Dr. Rosen.
I can live with the 1 post in 15, since I can live with the 1 article in 15 that The PRess allows a little objective truth to come out.
Or is that slip out...;-D
However, do you count a reply to a direct question to me as one post, because then anybody can shut me out by asking questions. And, as you said, some of what I write is somewhat opaque to you and your readers.
Deficiency in my wording and your all's understanding both, I assume.
Btw, you're glum because you have an instinct I may not be as psycho as some claim, and I may be right on more than what you'd be comfortable with, and I may be right that John F. Kerry is no JFK, Jr. let alone anything remotely resembling THE JFK some/most-a us grew up with.
Is that not about the long and the short of it, expressed semi-long verbiage??
That last question to Dr. Rosen or anybody.
The question about the rules of the house to whomever it concerns.
(Hint: that'd be Dr. Rosen and his advisors, only.)
Catching up some on all this side of "the formula", I'd like to encourage discussion, not proscribe anybody's views must be more along the lines of my own, btw:
"I also just can't conceive of the arrogance of the people within a certain craft/profession/whatever not only taking it upon themselves to define their role in society, but doing so in a way that makes their role as grandiose and powerful as possible."
Although I saw many good points above (now below, as I'm previewing these, and reading and re-reading...)...:
I can't think of a craft/profession/whatever that does NOT try to do this to some extent. Journalists, politicians, and the unscupulous in the field of Religion (in my opinion) do so, PERHAPS, Professors and H.S. Teachers as well moreso than others.
It is human instinct to want to be a Teacher in some field, as well as a student. Anybody that thinks there is ABSOLUTELY NO GENETICS to ANYthing would be, to an extent, partially and necessarily incorrect. (Forget who said that, above, as I'm just now getting to know some knew-Gnu-new faces...;-)
That they haven't been as successful as journalists in claiming the high moral ground formerly reserved the the Priesthood of the Religious and the Technical folks, until lately...
And, Dr. Rosen, left right or center (in my view and/or observation/opinion, whatever) has little to do with how arrogant a person is.
I'm not speaking for Tim, of course, nor accepting everything he's posted since I can't even have read everything. Just saying I believe that is the larger picture that the Stallmanist-leftist-journalist crafty in the trade has largely overlooked.
Because they've become bloggers, and joined the blogger cult/religion/whatever. Can't beat the Technobrats, then join 'em, I'm about ready to say, myself.
For Tim, Ernest, Tim and Tim:
"Good journalism is determined by the same evolutionary forces as good business in our capitalistic society.
Therefore, the failure of public or civic journalism and the rise of conservative journalism demonstrates which is good journalism."
This is Social Darwinism - defining that which survives and spreads as that which is good. Low blow counterexample: cancer.
"First, don't bring evolution into this, that is a misleading analogy. There is not a genetics of business or journalism."
There is too. We call it "corporate culture" or some such - it's the practices that have proven to be useful in achieving the system's goals. To extend this (so that you too can draw parallels into infinity :-) see Britt Blaser's comments on
conformity enforcers vs diversity enhancers
"You are not voting for policies in a republic, you are voting for the representative. Once elected, that representative is empowered to act and react until held accountable at the next election."
OK, let me rephrase Kinsley: Voting becomes pointless if there is no connection between the the representative that citizens think they are voting for and the representative they get.
"I was thinking what it might have been like to have this discussion about fact-checking, policy inconsistency and civic journalism while Lincoln was President. [ he used underhanded means to achieve noble ends]"
If you have fair rules and you enforce them - which is what journalism should enable, by informing the public - sometimes the guy you don't like is going to win. That's something we have to live with, since the alternative is worse .
over and out...weekend is nigh
Jay et al: Let me respond (at, it turns out, a length I hope folks will indulge) to a couple of points in the thread:
1) My sense is that the minute you frame this issue as one between left-leaning and right-leaning journalists and journalism, you're already off the tracks. My point, which young (I'm presuming) Mr. Deamer finds so obnoxious, is that most Americans and, in fact, most journalists do not subscribe to the rigid ideologies of liberalism and conservatism that are promulgated in official politics. In this they show great good sense, in that our politics has become, in Matt Miller's nice phrase, a "tyranny of charades" and in E.J. Dionne's more famous one, a "a politics of false choices, of either/or, not both/and."
I don't claim reporters/people don't have views and feelings that filter reality for them; I said for most people the filter is idiosyncratic, lacking the predictabilty of ideology. But some people prefer, for whatever psychological reasons I can't fathom because I don't happen to be that way, to view the world through the prism of a more rigid, systematic worldview. My bias, based on my observation, is that those people tend to be less open to information, less willing to be surprised by reality, to be less responsive to new facts. And, of course, the heart of being a good journalist is to be radically open to new information.
To me the questions at the heart of the enterprise are not inherently partisan. They are: Are we helping citizens take part in democracy in whatever way they want? Are we helping the communities we serve identify and solve their problems, identify and celebrate their heroes, expand and deepen their sense of community, their civic capital. So, yes, that is a bias - I'd like the place where I live to work well as a place to live. I really don't care whether the leaders who help make that happen have an R, D or I behind their names. So shoot me.
2) Again, to the insulting Mr. Deamer - I did not suggest, re: Israel/Palestine, the old canard, "If everyone is mad at us, we must be doing our jobs." As Adam Gopnik once nicely pointed, if everyone is mad at you, it's also possible you're doing something very wrong. My point was not that we're perfect; it's that propagandists are next to worthless in helping you find and correct the flaws in your work.
3) What bothers me about a lot of this rarefied talk is the detachment from the day to day reality of actually doing the work. It is a job where people try to make a living doing pragmatic work that has an idealistic base. Newspapers come out every day; we make thousands of assertions of fact every day and drop them onto driveways (or into the nearby rose bush). It's audacious; it's crazy; who in their right mind would offer an implicit guarantee of accuracy under those circumstances? But we make the pledge (it's both an idealistic goal and a business model for providing consumer value) then do the best we can to uphold it, knowing perfection is impossible and failure is potentially momentous.
And with all respect, the person who said we never get sued or have to worry about it simply has no clue what he/she is talking about. Come work in Philly under the tender gaze of Dick Sprague and tell me you don't worry about lawsuits.
4) Would a concrete example of "helping public life go well" help? Philly has a piece of vital, central waterfront called Penn's Landing that is a mess, and has been for a long time. Every five years or so a new grandiose development plan is announced, fills headlines for a while, then collapses.
After the last such collapse, my paper asked a question: What if, instead of just letting developers propose unrealistic monstrosities for the site, we asked the public what it wanted down there? What if, to help that public voice become richer and deeper, we put citizens into direct contact with some of the best planners and architects in the city, people who could expand the public's sense of best practices and its sense of the possible. Then what if we got those professionals to volunteer time to work with members of the public to shape a set of public principles for the site, and to craft a couple of alternative visions for what might go there, visions that embodied the principles.
We did that and hundreds of people took part - in a town where development decisions on public land had increasingly become backroom deals shaped by campaign contributions.
In the end, the city - which may have been on its way to another of those backroom deals - had to slow down, embrace the public process and include its findings in the request for new proposals for the site.
To me, that was us trying to help public life go well. We never advocated for any particular plan or developer. We advocated for public process and taking seriously the public's principles. We also advocated for the idea that the public and professional elite could be brought together and work together to add a new civic capacity to a city that has a hard time being visionary.
Are there opinions embedded in this work? Sure. Good design is better than bad design. Public land should not be turned over to private developers without public input. Civic space is to be valued.
Yes, all that was the "bias" of our work. Again, shoot me. But that's a very different thing from the newspaper getting into bed with one power broker, one pol, one businessman, one ideology, one interest group. The only interest group we were favoring was that of the public - and that group came to the dance with very diverse values and notions of a good outcome.
Also worth noting is that in doing this we created a model for public process and energized a group of design professionals to use it again. We built some civic capital that might just make our town a better place to live.
Civic journalism encourages involvement and facilitates communication between groups in the community where there is none or it is dysfunctional. I can see how that differs from watchdog journalism or disinterested witness. Is that it? It is a third form of journalism? Watchdog, witness and mid-wife?
I can see how there is no conflict between watchdog and witness. But mid-wife creates an interest in the project. Can a journalist be a mid-wife interest in the success of a community project, and a watchdog, and a disinterested witness? Does it require seperate jouranlists within the news organization to perform those different roles for that project? Should it be different news organizations for mid-wife, and for watchdog/witness?
I appreciate your participation in this thread and your examples of good (civic) journalism when things went right. But what is the trap door to the slippery slope? That the journalist mid-wife becomes corruptible by being involved in the process?
The 64k question is, in today's world - with the tools we have today, that we didn't have back then - is there a way we can restructure the rules (the filter for extracting signal while excluding noise) for what constitutes "statistically significant" data (in journalism as in science) so as to wring more "signal" out of the data that previously would have been inadmissible?
If you have fair rules and you enforce them - which is what journalism should enable, by informing the public - sometimes the guy you don't like is going to win. That's something we have to live with, since the alternative is worse.
What are the rules that are fair or need to be restructured? Satullo wrote an excellent 'graph where each sentence began, "Public life goes well when ...." Am I correct to think each sentence is an objective of civic journalism, to help? Perhaps not a complete list, but accurate. Civic journalism would develop rules based on these objectives, to remove barriers as Ernest describes. And are these rules intended for Diversity Agents working against Conformity Enforcers? I like that concept because it reflects Ernest's Catholic/Protestant analogy and competition without a winner-takes-all paranoia. We should have, we need, both.
On Lincoln. I have found it interesting to read about the dynamics and rules in place at the time for political journalism and compare it to our situation today.
Lincoln's 1860 campaign platform
1864 campaign Newspapers
More Lincoln and the Civil War journalism
... rephrase Kinsley: Voting becomes pointless if there is no connection between the the representative that citizens think they are voting for and the representative they get.
I think that fundamentally misrepresents the concepts of representative and participatory democracy in our republic.
Voting becomes pointless when the result has been pre-determined. For example: Iraq under Saddam, Cuba under Castro, perhaps Venezuela under Chavez.
Voting and the length of the term an elected official serves are important to me because I inevitably vote for people who are consistant when they shouldn't be, inconsistant against my wishes, sometimes corrupt and always fallible. Kinsley knows this. It's been this way for ... well ... many, many years.
"Times" change. Our vote is our way of telling the politician whether we approve of the way they changed with the "Times" (or not). It strikes me as dishonest to say, "As a candidate he said he would govern a certain way during Peace and Prosperity, but then when War and Recession came he changed his policies (or became someone else)! That makes voting pointless."
Kinsley's article is the opposite of helping.
Tim: Civic journalism is not my life's work or my religion. It does not apply to every situation that arises when we talk about the news media. It has a purpose within mainstream news organizations of challenging "journalism for journalists." It gets people in the news media thinking about democracy in a less formulaic way. It is not a solution to all the problems we find in journalism today.
In fact, one of the reasons I started PressThink was that I wanted to break away from talking only about civic journalism, which is a very limited set of ideas. Also, I almost never answer questions like: does X qualify as civic journlism? They don't lead anywhere except to a superficial sorting-- that's civic, that's not.
Frankly, I think you're just trying to get me to say, "Fox News? No, no that's not civic journalism" so you can further say: to Rosen, "civic" just means liberal, I guess. Same old, same old. Right-wingers can't be civic, no. Bad, bad right wing. Good, good, left wing. Look how biased you are, Jay. Just another liberal.
To me that is pointless, inane, a waste of bandwidth.
So I asked you if you were trying to prove that I am biased at my own blog. Too late for that, I said, not only because I announced in the Q and A were I land politically, but because everything I write is from my perspective, influenced by my own convictions, "partial" if you will.
I have written before at PressThink that the rise of Fox and to some degree right-wing talk radio was a sign of unmet demand, an alienated market that was not being served by other media. I certainly think the rise of Fox is a wake-up call for others in the press.
Finally, let me add something else that will probably annoy or piss off you and many others here. It is, nonetheless, what I believe and it is also a kind of advice. The more you rely on "political bias" the less you will understand of the press. The category itself has a way of teaching you to misapprehend. The longer you stay within its confines, the dumber you will get about journalism and its discontents.
Now that is not... did you hear me? I said not my way of saying there's no bias in journalism. Nor is it my way of asserting that journalists are ideology-free (they are not.) I don't believe you can think about the press today without thinking about its role in politics, as a kind of player, but the category of bias is not going to help you. We need another language.
You are not required to accept this conclusion or agree; in my experience, very few people do accept it. Very few agree. Bias talk is our political culture's way of talking about the press; it's popular and satisfying. I expect to make zero headway against it.
However, for those engaged in the war I mentioned, the category of bias is everything, and it will never be relinquished.