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Like PressThink? More from the same pen:

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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November 3, 2004

Are We Headed for an Opposition Press?

"Big Journalism cannot respond as it would in previous years: with bland vows to cover the Administration fairly and a firm intention to make no changes whatsoever in its basic approach to politics and news. The situation is too unstable, the world is changing too rapidly, and the press has been pretending for too long that its old operating system will last forever. It won't."

Back before the 2004 campaign began, before the emergence of Howard Dean, Democrats shocked at the weakness of their party in Congress would commonly say that the only one “taking on” Bush and putting up a real fight was Paul Krugman, the columnist for the New York Times.

John Kerry’s defeat is only hours old. One of the first questions to occur to me is: will we see the fuller emergence of an opposition press, given that George W. Bush and the Republicans are to remain in office another four years? Will we find instead that an intimidation factor, already apparent before the election, will intensify as a result of Bush’s victory?

I believe Big Journalism cannot respond as it would in previous years: with bland vows to cover the Adminstration fairly and a firm intention to make no changes whatsoever in its basic approach to politics and news. The situation is too unstable, the world is changing too rapidly, and political journalism has been pretending for too long that an old operating system will last forever. It won’t. It can’t. Particularly in the face of an innovative Bush team and its bold thesis about the fading powers of the press.

This election, says Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, “sharpened the cultural divides that have increasingly defined American politics over the last generation.” With Bush’s majority-of-the-vote win, this dynamic is likely to intensify, but it’s only one thing causing an intellectual crack-up in the press. Here are some developments to watch for:

  • At some point between now and 2008, either MSNBC or CNN may break off from the pack and decide to become the liberal alternative to Fox, thus freeing Fox to find a more frankly ideological formula, as well. During the conventions the logic of this move became evident. The single most shocking moment for television news people came in late summer when Fox won the ratings for the Republican convention, the first time a cable channel had defeated the broadcast networks in that competition. Everyone realized at once the power of GOP-TV and how much sense that system—the more partisan system—made. (Like a political party, FOX has a base and it reaches out for other viewers, knowing it cannot alienate the base.) If one of the other cable channels goes left, will the remaining networks that are “unaligned” stand pat, go left, or hook right? Big question.
  • Which seems more plausible: the “cultural divides that have increasingly defined American politics,” as Brownstein put it, will also begin to define American media, or… Big Media will successfully hold itself back from politics, and the major news sources will remain non-aligned, officially neutral? The first prospect means a radical restructuring is due (or maybe it is already underway.) Certainly leaders in Big Journalism will try to remain non-aligned, but do they even have that power? As we know from politics, if you don’t watch out you can be defined by your opponents. Opponents want to define the national press as the liberal media, and they are well along in their cultural project, which does not require the participation—or consent—of journalists.
  • The campaign year had many high points and subplots involving the media: confessions of failure on WMD’s, Michael Moore’s success with agitprop, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their effect on Kerry, the disaster that Dan Rather and Sixty Minutes brought upon themselves at CBS, the he said she said, we said furor involving who lies more, the rise of the bloggers and the tensions this caused with Big Media (which also absorbed them), Jon Stewart’s showdown with Crossfire and his impact overall with “fake” news, the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s plans for Stolen Honor. Such episodes we still see as “distractions.” Some day we may realize that this is one way Americans “do” their politics today: they attack and defend the media, or start their own media, or use new media against old media, or mount a claim that the media is the opposition.
  • So what remains after all that? The cultural right, in its struggle with the liberal media, feels that it is on the ascendant. Participants there are primed for more action. News and editorial decision-making are thrust into the political arena itself as potentially explosive “issues.” This expansion of the political into the realm of “news” and commentary coincides with greater transparency for the big news combines, which are more successfully scrutinized than they have ever been. Various layers of protection once kept journalists from the knowledge the public had of their mistakes. That layering seems gone now.
  • The Bush White House has the national press in a box. (A “hammerlock,” says this account.) As with so many other situations, they have changed the world and allowed the language of the old world to keep running while exploring unchallenged the fact of the new. The old world was the Fourth Estate, and the watchdog role of the press, the magic of the White House press conference. It was a feeling that, though locked in struggle much of the time, journalists and presidents needed each other. Although it was never put this way, they glamourized Washington politics together, and this helped both.
  • In Bushworld, all is different. There is no fourth estate; an invalid theory, says Team Bush. The press is not a watchdog for the public, but another interest group that wants something. (Or, they say, it’s an arm of our opponents’ operation.) But the press is weak, and almost passe, in the Administration’s view. There is no need to deal with it most of the time. It can be denied access with impunity. It can be attacked for bias relentlessly, which charges up Bush supporters. It can be fed gruel and will come back the next day. The Bush crowd has completely changed the game on journalists, knowing that journalists are unlikely to respond with action nearly as bold. For example, would the press ever pull out of Iraq as a signal to the Bush White House? Never, and this is why it is seen as weak.
  • Washington journalism likes to imagine itself the Administration’s great adversary, but most of the time it relies on access journalism— not the adversarial kind. “Sources make news” is the first tenet in that system, and that gives sources power. But access journalism makes less and less sense when there is no access, and sources rarely deviate from the party line. The White House press corps has always been based on access, so much so that the alternatives to it have almost been forgotten. I think there will be pressure to abandon the whole dream of press access under Bush, and re-position some forces accordingly.
  • Interesting, then, what Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee said at PressThink this week: “When my colleagues complain about a lack of access to Schwarzenegger at his media events, I ask, is that kind of access really critical to our doing our jobs? Is it our job to get close enough to describe the color of his tie, or his interaction with a voter, or is it our job to deconstruct the governor’s (or president’s) policies and proposals, their effect or potential effect on the public, their cost and consequences? Sure it’s great to have an interview with the man, or fire away questions at a press conference, but I think good journalists are capable of informing the public without the benefit of these tools.” He’s thinking of alternatives to access because he’s already realized it: Arnold is post-press in his political style.
  • I expect some news organizations to begin dealing with these pressures by essentially giving in on several counts— for example, that newsrooms are populated by liberals and conservative voices are too few. Coming to terms with “liberal bias” could be seen as a way of recognizing the reality of the election and responding to continued anger at the press. The most likely place for those efforts to begin is with the supposed finding that “moral values” (read religion) were the top concern of voters, yet this is not a strength of the liberal, secular press; therefore we need to change— or something like that. After the Republican sweep, I expect some major initiatives on the bias front.
  • Keep your eye on Sinclair Broadcasting, in my view a new kind of media company— a political empire with television stations. It was built to prosper in the conditions I have described. It already has a self-conscious political identity. It is already steeped in culture war. And it admires and imitates the Bush method of changing the world, but keeping the same language for the new situation.
  • The years 2004 to 2008 will be an intense and creative period for left wing journalism, which is oppositional, and for opinion journalism generally.

Journalists who have been paying attention know that something big in their world changed in 2004. (See my list of stuff happening.) But will they go through the kind of agonizing re-appraisal the Democrats will soon be undertaking? (It’s already been called a “battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.”) Or will they let that old weary operating system grind on?

PressThink believes the re-appraisal starts now.

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links

David Shaw, the longtime media critic of the Los Angeles Times, took issue with this post in a column eleven days later: “Would a left-leaning cable network make things right?” He says no.

USA Today, in the person of media writer Peter Johnson, took a similar view: Will Fox News’ success force competitors to take sides?

Similar response in Business Week, in a commentary Nov. 29:

The anxious new mood was captured, the day after the election, by an article New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen wrote on his Web log, PressThink. It was titled “Are We Headed for an Opposition Press?” and examined whether America is moving toward a European model, wherein many leading papers have well-known party affiliations. This once-radical idea has suddenly gained highbrow intellectual currency based on the theory that reporters should show their true colors rather than pretend to be above ordinary human bias. Staffers at Web site Slate, for instance, disclose their party affiliations — a big taboo in the Establishment media. “The press has been pretending for too long that its old operating system will last forever,” argues NYU’s Rosen. “It won’t.”

Ideological transparency is the type of apple-pie virtue that seems impossible to oppose. But while it may be appropriate for the world of opinion media, it has the potential to be quite destructive to the fact-seeking media.

Call for Writers: This is a call to professional journalists (people employed in the press) who have something to say to their colleagues in the wake of the 2004 election and in light of bigger developments around us. Over the next few weeks, I would like to invite some guest writers to continue the examination of old think in the press, begun by ex-New York Timesman Doug McGill (The Fading Mystique of an Objective Press) and Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub (No Longer Do the Newsies Decide.) Background to those pieces was my post, Too Much Reality, which featured a list of twenty puzzles and problems, such as:

  • Political attacks seeking to discredit the press and why they’re intensifying
  • Scandals in the news business and the damage they are sowing
  • The era of greater transparency and what it’s doing to modern journalism
  • Why the culture war keeps going, this year reaching the mainstream press
  • Why argument journalism is more involving than the informational kind

What has to change in journalism? What was learned in 2004? Send me your press think—in the form of a personal essay with examples and ideas, stories and insights—and if it’s good, I will run it. Or e-mail me with an idea. Other guest writers: Ernest Sotomayor of Unity, Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News.

Harry Jaffe in Washingtonian magazine: Among the Election Losers: White House Press Corps?

“Even within the White House information was very closely held,” says a reporter who covered Bush’s first term. Covering this White House was “nigh on impossible,” she says.

Can it get harder?

A president who already holds the record for calling the fewest solo news conferences might convene even fewer.

Some reporters wonder if the Bush team will attempt to kill off the daily briefing.

There are rumors that Bush wants to carry out Hillary Rodham Clinton’s threat to move the press room out of the West Wing.

Public Opinion, an Australian Blogger rephrases this post: “Will we see the fuller emergence of an opposition press, given that John Howard and the conservative Coalition are to remain in office another three years? Will we find instead that an intimidation factor, already apparent before the election, will intensify as a result of Howard’s victory?”

Earlier speculations at PressThink (Sep. 2) “Turn to Fox News for Exclusive Coverage of the Republican National Convention.” By 2008 we may see something different emerge: The Republican and Democratic parties negotiate deals with a single network to carry exclusive coverage of the event— like the Academy Awards, or the Olympics.

At Corante, Ernest Miller responds to this post: Whither the Press?

In politics we have opposition parties. Those in each party express one position when it is their party in charge, and castigate the same position when it is championed by the other party in charge. How expected. And how sad. Is this the future we want the press to adopt?

Why not a press that is the permanent party of skepticism and contingent thinking? How about a press, not without bias, certainly, but with a commitment to exposing the facts and a humble recognition of the possibility for error? Why not a press firmly on the side of transparency? Such a position is hardly apolitical. In fact, it is radically engaged with and opposed to “politics” as well as the “view from nowhere.”

Read the rest. It is all forward looking.

Peggy Noonan in her morning-after column for Wall Street Journal (Nov. 4, 2004):

Who was the biggest loser of the 2004 election? It is easy to say Mr. Kerry: he was a poor candidate with a poor campaign. But I do think the biggest loser was the mainstream media, the famous MSM, the initials that became popular in this election cycle. Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief—CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS’s “60 Minutes” attempting to coordinate the breaking of bombgate on the Sunday before the election—the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America… God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America. Some day, when America is hit again, and lines go down, and media are hard to get, these bloggers and site runners and independent Internetters of all sorts will find a way to file, and get their word out, and it will be part of the saving of our country.

Former Newsweek reporter Robert Parry: Too Little, Too Late.

Yet, even as conservative foundations were pouring tens of millions of dollars into building hard-edged conservative media outlets, liberal foundations kept repeating the refrain: “We don’t do media.” One key liberal foundation explicitly forbade even submitting funding requests that related to media projects.

What I saw on the Left during this pivotal period was an ostrich-like avoidance of the growing threat from the Right’s rapidly developing news media infrastructure.

President Bush’s press conference after victory, from Dan Froomkim’s White House Briefing.

After Associated Press reporter Terence Hunt opened the questioning with a three-parter, Bush said: “Now that I’ve got the will of the people at my back, I’m going to start enforcing the one-question rule. That was three.”

For mourners only: The election hangover of a lifetime.

Latest installment in Big Journalists bravely debunking bloggers: Frank Barnako, CBS Marketwatch, Bloggers blew it: Much posting, little impact. Here’s Jarvis on it. (Who expected big things from bloggers on election night? I didn’t.)

Howard Kurtz on the explanations game in the press, post-election: Let the Explaining Begin!

Here is Ron Suskind’s New York Times Magazine article from before the election, Without a Doubt. In PressThink’s view, the most heroic work of journalism during campaign 2004.

Posted by Jay Rosen at November 3, 2004 4:27 PM   Print


In Bushworld, all is different. There is no fourth estate; an invalid theory, says Bush.

Perhaps. Perhaps Bush says that the people wearing White House press badges no longer occupy the real estate and there is no reason to humor, even for PC reasons, the "reality-based" commies' myth that they do.

The $64 million question: Does the 4th Estate stand vacant? Does the Bush administration think so? Is the Bush administration speaking to a free press representing the public not on the NYT's circulation list or watching CBS?

Posted by: Tim at November 3, 2004 6:32 PM | Permalink

Posted by: Ernest Miller at November 3, 2004 7:16 PM | Permalink

CNN and /or MSNBC need a bigger shock to the system than the fact that Fox beat out the networks. What they need to realize is that instead of being FOX-lite and chasing after the same market share, they could go after the other half of the American population and get the same amount of revenue.

Posted by: linnen at November 3, 2004 7:41 PM | Permalink

Bush's malaprops, "reality-based", Swift Boat Liars, ...

Keeping the breech primed for 2008.

Public Sees Media Favoring Kerry, CNN Watchers Prefer Kerry

Two polls released last week found that more people perceive the media tilting coverage in favor of Democrat John Kerry than in favor of Republican President George W. Bush. Gallup determined that 35 percent think coverage has tilted toward Kerry compared to just 16 percent who said it favored Bush. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press discovered that "half of voters (50 percent) say most newspaper and TV reporters would prefer to see John Kerry win the election, compared with just 22 percent who think that most journalists are pulling for George Bush." While 27 percent described Kerry coverage as "unfair," 37 percent considered Bush coverage to be "unfair."
Wonder what Evan Thomas would say, Jay?

Posted by: Tim at November 3, 2004 7:49 PM | Permalink

Polemics... in the press!? "Shocked... I am shocked to find there is gambling going on here!"

The Press have value only in so much as they act the fool. They present a view of federal politics as domestically oriented in order to cover the actual lack, and what of the cost of paying intelligent people to counter the expensive messages crafted by their best customers? Would this be in the best interests of stockholders?

Networks and other media conglomerates are still nothing but artifical persons. They have no human interst in the boardroom. What self-interested artifical person would engage in self-imolation? Waking the sleeping giant would mean alienating the customer base, encouraging the average viewer to think. No one really wants that, do they?

I'd dearly love to see ABC or NBC step up the challenge of crafting a "liberal" and systemwide focus, on progressive politics. But since media's only economic value is bringing eyes to advertisers, it's inevitable orientation is with irreconcilable conflict, not solutions or answers to problems.

Bill Moyers would never stoop to producing Friends , so why hope that he would...

Posted by: Realist at November 3, 2004 8:00 PM | Permalink

If CNN or MSNBC truly wants to take a competitive position against Fox in the realm of politics U.S., they would cease reporting Whiteho_se spin altogether.

PR from the Bush administration is honed to fine art.

It is far more important to report actions and analyze effects. Any network that would step up to the plate would immediately become a real, valuable news source...

a "White Horse to counter the Whitewash."

Posted by: Hopeful at November 3, 2004 8:17 PM | Permalink

The most likely place for those efforts to begin is with the supposed finding that "moral values" (read religion) were the top concern of voters, yet this is not a strength of the liberal, secular press; therefore we need to change-- something like that.

PBS NewsHour: Divided We Stand and How We Voted

Posted by: Tim at November 3, 2004 8:48 PM | Permalink

We've already been there.

What's next?

How about a Press that conducts, forwards, and champions dialog? Without failing to move the dialog forward? Without failing to understand the bulk of the country? Without missing the point again, and again?

What would that be like?

Opposition Press? Been there. Done that. Leads to alternatives to Press. Are here. Doing that.

Posted by: John Lynch at November 3, 2004 9:40 PM | Permalink

Jay has eloquently framed the issue of an overtly partisan press that squares off to represent opposing political philosophies and appeal to various discrete constituencies. This is already the norm in the UK and to some extent in Canada. I see it as the natural next step in this country too.

Of course, to many of us who do not inhabit the same media echo chamber with the MSM today, this coming-out will be a breath of fresh air. For us, it has been glaringly obvious that a large portion of the MSM has been backing liberal causes, without being honest about their position, for many years. Any real semblance of objectivity was discarded long ago, and all we have had ever since was a fraud masquerading as some kind of objective reality. This is one of the main reasons, for example, we get so frustrated with the sanctimonious crap from the likes of the NYT. Public Editor Okrent, who was pilloried by his colleagues for admitting the NYT was basically a liberal paper, later wrote that he felt they were treating the candidates on equal terms, as though to regain favor. This is such obvious bullshit that many of us long for them to just admit they are shills for their own political persuasion.

To all seemingly repressed journalists, who have always wanted to reveal their inner Howard Dean without having to thinly cloak their views with code words and "he-said, she-said" covering fire to retain plausible deniability -- please go ahead -- the truth shall set you free.

Posted by: Evor Glens at November 3, 2004 10:03 PM | Permalink

Loose thoughts:

"But the press is weak, and almost passe, in the Administrations view." -- Because it doesn't do its job... which, incidentally is not necessarily to toe the Bush line... but at least to give the administration a fair shake, which is institutionally difficult in a business that requires patented zinger closing sentences.

But access journalism makes less and less sense when there is no access ... there will be pressure to abandon the whole dream of press access under Bush, and re-position some forces accordingly. -- That lack of access, in and of itself would be a story that Bush cannot long face. Weintraub is right, it is more important to deconstruct the leader's policies and proposals, their effect or potential effect on the public, their cost and consequences.

Coming to terms with "liberal bias" could be seen as a way of recognizing the reality of the election and responding to continued anger at the press. The most likely place for those efforts to begin is with the supposed finding that "moral values" (read religion) were the top concern of voters, yet this is not a strength of the liberal, secular press; therefore we need to change-- something like that. -- People can read it as religion if they want, and they may believe it so very strongly, but it would be a mistake to believe the concepts are exclusive to religion. Every moral position worth taking has a justification that can be expressed independent of religion -- and ought to be expressed independent of religion. Once reporters recognize that, they won't have to change -- they won't even have to hold their nose.

The origin of the current "values" crisis is more than 40 years old. It goes back to my teens, the first generation to have to ask "Why?" who were unwilling to tolerate "Because I told you so!" Their teachers were flummoxed because while there were good answers, they did not come easily to mind. We became generation of new teachers -- now old teachers -- who couldn't explain "Why". But now we have the tools to make why obvious. And the tools have absolutely nothing to do with William Bennett and his virtue books. Those books present what to do (Be this way. Be that way.) but don't explain how to figure out why it is valuable.

Our job of journalism won't require converting to another point of view, but to understand we actually share an underlying fabric, if we care to learn to express it in a manner both sides can understand.

Posted by: sbw at November 3, 2004 10:35 PM | Permalink

Morals are evolved. Some didn't get all of the signals. Such is the nature of well...nature.

Posted by: Richard Dawkins at November 3, 2004 11:29 PM | Permalink

As cogent as your analysis sounds, it seems to occur in a vacuum. The notion that something called "moral values" gained in ascendancy in the final days before Nov. 2 (a view put forward on NPR, among other places) is ludicrous. The vox populi, whatever else it is, is a membrane responding to pressures and motives that do not stop at the US borders, and do not consist entirely of liberals, the New York Times, and Fox News. Fundamentalism arises in response to, at least, Fundamentalism, and Gawd knows, we have plenty of Fundament going around, all over the world. I would suggest your frame is not unlike American New Criticism: it gives us superb insights within a perspective that fails to see what's just over the horizon.

Posted by: tom matrullo at November 4, 2004 6:42 AM | Permalink

What are moral values? Here's one view: religion, traditional families, pro-life. Here's another: I almost voted for Nader. Why? Certainly not because I agree with his positions on many policies. Nope, I almost voted for him because he was the only candidate with integrity. He absolutely stuck to his positions, he didn't blow in the political wind. I admire that, even when I don't agree. That's moral values too.

Unfortunately, the myopic media can't see anything beyond the pickup truck driving, bible-thumping values of the midwest and south as being moral values. That's one reason why the press if out of touch. I think everyone on the coasts needs to spend a year living in a red state, and talking to regular people who live there. They'd learn a lot.

What happened in this election is that the media lost control of the narrative. The he said, she said, reporting on attack ads, etc. gave way to a richer dialogue on the web, a conversation that involved tens of thousands of people and unearthed countless views and opinions and ideas. It was much deeper than anything offered by the traditional press, and people with access to it flocked to it.

If I had to redesign the fourth estate, I'd do it like this: The AP would cover the White House, Statehouse and write daily web reports about what the leadership did. Print journalists would turn away from the tennis game of legislating and politicking and instead work much harder to expose the inner working of how our government works, and how it will affect us.

By that I mean that print journalists would look damn hard at how interest groups have unusual access to power, particularly business groups. And instead of playing gotcha journalism with politicians, reporters would expose the way things really work. In a kind of Bartlett and Steele form, except there would be daily reports rather than B&S's biannual tome.

Our lives are shaped by commercial forces and how these work in concert with government. But the coverage of this election didn't really show this. Swift boats, mysteriously missing weapons, yeah, they're important. But the truth is both candidates were bought and paid for by corporate profits, interest group dues (AMA, ABA, NEA), and other rich folks. The idea that either candidate is somehow "pure" or "better" is simply nonsense. Print reporters ought to be spending more time figuring out who the candidates owe, and how they will pay them back, rather than enthusing about today's pep rally or photo-op.

I don't know what to do about broadcast. I have to think about that some more.

Posted by: dr. cookie at November 4, 2004 8:05 AM | Permalink

Interesting thoughts. The problem, though, is that both sides are already preaching to the choir. There's a press for each constituency, and people read, listen and watch what they want to hear. It would be interesting if, in those exit polls, someone had asked each voter, in addition to who they voted for and why: what are your three top sources of information? I'd love to see the red state/blue state map annotated with media preferences.

Posted by: Debbie Galant at November 4, 2004 9:55 AM | Permalink

Andy Kohut from Pew cautioned about the moral issues vote in exit polling during the How we voted NewsHour segment I linked above. I think this is probably a misleading narrative in the press.

Basically the "moral values" exit poll question is too ambiguous and has what he called a "social desirability". In other words, it is hard for a respondent to say she was not thinking of moral issues when she voted. Open ended questions during the campaign did not reflect the same level of concern.

A better discussion about religion in politics was the Divided we stand segment, which I'll excerpt:

GWEN IFILL: Morris Fiorina, is there polarization that exists? We looked at these numbers last night. We crunched through them. We saw that one in five people cited moral values as a major issue for their votes, and that eight out of ten of those people voted for President Bush, and then we look at that map with all those red states in the middle and the blue states on the end, does that mean that we're a hopelessly polarized nation?

MORRIS P. FIORINA: No. Not at all; I agree with Andy Kohut. There has been a lot of exaggeration here it is also true that people in the academy and the media are really missing the importance of religion and have for a long time in American politics.

But the point I want to make is it's not as if tens of millions of Americans woke up in the last two elections and decided economics doesn't matter anymore, it's all about values. Rather what's happened is the parties have become closer in economics.

They now argue about how big the tax cuts - how big the budget deficit, how big a prescription drug plan, and have gotten farther apart on values. The Republican Party has barely embraced the religious right. The Democratic Party has gotten quite secular.
JIM WALLIS: ... So what could happen here, I think Rick's right, if there was a candidate running with a strong set of personal values and then was very pro-poor, questioned, like many evangelical theologians did this time, a theology of war, they said, emanating from the highest circles of power in the country, these are evangelicals who said this, there could be a whole different kind of response to a vision that had personal ethics, very strong, but then a social justice and a commitment to peace, as well. So this doesn't go left or right. It begins to build bridges between two constituencies.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 10:01 AM | Permalink


Your piece is troubling to me. I am a proponent of deliberative democracy, and a philosophy that asks that citizens and political leaders abide by the principles of mutual self-respect, publicity and accountability.

An adversial relationship between government administration and the press undermines all three of those principles. Consider accountability. An adversial press vs. pure rhetoric cannot hold elected officials accountable. Or consider publicity. There is no way to deliberate on many public policies if the administration holds key information secret (abu gharib anyone?).

With Bush's re-election strategy vindicated and competitive pressures on the media as they are, your analysis is sadly realistic.

Posted by: Michael Weiksner at November 4, 2004 10:18 AM | Permalink

Perhaps we already had an opposition press and no one bothered to tell the media. Perhaps the media should focus more on policy rather than sound byted ... and do what Kerry never did. Explain how tax cuts screw them over in their entitlement programs.

Posted by: Steve at November 4, 2004 10:44 AM | Permalink

More accurately, explain how tax cuts ARE entitlement programs that allow those most profiting from public investment to have someone else pay for the infrastructure that brings them the money.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at November 4, 2004 11:08 AM | Permalink

Thomas Friedman (who I generally consider a naive Republican tool) has an important column in today's New York Times:

At one level this election was about nothing. None of the real problems facing the nation were really discussed. But at another level, without warning, it actually became about everything. Partly that happened because so many Supreme Court seats are at stake, and partly because Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president. I felt as if I registered to vote, but when I showed up the Constitutional Convention broke out.

The election results reaffirmed that. Despite an utterly incompetent war performance in Iraq and a stagnant economy, Mr. Bush held onto the same basic core of states that he won four years ago - as if nothing had happened. It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on.

This was not an election. This was station identification. I'd bet anything that if the election ballots hadn't had the names Bush and Kerry on them but simply asked instead, "Do you watch Fox TV or read The New York Times?" the Electoral College would have broken the exact same way...

"The Democrats have ceded to Republicans a monopoly on the moral and spiritual sources of American politics," noted the Harvard University political theorist Michael J. Sandel. "They will not recover as a party until they again have candidates who can speak to those moral and spiritual yearnings - but turn them to progressive purposes in domestic policy and foreign affairs."

Posted by: Ben Franklin at November 4, 2004 11:22 AM | Permalink

"What are moral values? "

Simple. It's "get the fags!"

Gays and lesbians are the New Niggers.

And if you're black and gay like I am, then it's a twofer.

I'm not joking. This is painfully obvious.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at November 4, 2004 11:24 AM | Permalink

My point of difference with Friedman's column is that the New York Times has been Foxicized, Friedman along with Judith Miller being one of the leading reasons for that. And yet consistent New York Times cheerleading for the Bush disaster doesn't matter in mythological Bushworld or Friedman world. They are liberal in essence and by definition. Our politics still works like Medieval scholasticism.

The ideological schools define reality, not the other way around. No amount of Republican cheerleading can dull the liberal essence of the New York Times from the God's eye-view of ideology.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at November 4, 2004 11:30 AM | Permalink

"Moral values" and such labels are slippery. Their ambiguity makes them difficult to either bring cultures together or to help us plan for our collective future. However, below I present a useful substitute that diverse cultures and religious persuasions can embrace because it builds a sturdy foundation on one's personal experience.

Our community is considering how to present character education to the community constructively. I have advocated an approach different than teaching virtues, because I think long-term self-interest can be a powerful motivator.

Why now? Because we have useful symbolism that helps make the concepts more accessible. People think dynamically, but schools don't usually teach process. People can think about thinking about thinking -- and come to useful ways to approach problems. So in an afternoon, I wrote these pages for people interested in character education in our community to browse through.

Right away you can see that religions speak to these ideas but they are not religious. These ideas are core to the civil interaction upon which society depends. What is more, they lead people to make better choices.

I would not have added these links to this journalistic discussion except that the topic will occupy us repeatedly to no resolution unless we think about it differently than is currently represented in the press.

Posted by: sbw at November 4, 2004 1:37 PM | Permalink

While only a casual passer-by at this site, my jaw dropped when the statement was made that CNN could go left? My gosh, where have you been? CNN has been left for years (they didn't get the nick name Communist News Network for nothing), along with the MSNBC, and the big 3! I cannot for the life of me understand how so many people "in the media" don't get what the viewing people are saying: the media is biased and we don't want to watch it! Go back to old, old style journalism of reporting facts without passing them through the leftist, out-of-touch-with-mainstream-America filter and you'll have a winner! It's not complicated guys. Open your eyes all the way and quit looking "down" your noses, quit assuming you know what's best for the viewer, and get back to "reporting" not "commenting".

Posted by: chs at November 4, 2004 1:45 PM | Permalink

Quote: "will we see the fuller emergence of an opposition press, given that George W. Bush and the Republicans are to remain in office another four years?"

Can you spot the howler in this sentence?

Fuller emergence? You mean, repeating the Media Mantra of the 1980s: "He's a warmonger, he's so dumb, he's a tool of the rich, he hates the poor, he's a reckless cowboy, he'll start World War III, he destroys the environment..." and so on.

Old script. Old lines. NOT impressed. Wake up and smell the Internet. The reign of the Fourth Estate is over.

It's not so much that I agree with every policy of the Republican Party, but that I have a long memory: the press has sucked up to just about every dictator, terrorist and kleptocrat in the Post-War era, and demonized any U.S. President who dared to call tyranny a Bad Thing.

Why should I trust the Fourth Estate to have a moment of insight, and say: "Hey guys, I just had an idea! Maybe we should stop assuming we are entitled to telling the public what to think! Maybe we could just report real events and not try to shape them!"

But then again, why should newspaper readers finance foreign correspondents, when they can read weblogs from abroad?

Posted by: A.R.Yngve at November 4, 2004 2:16 PM | Permalink

About the most disheartening thing from election night, for me, was the image of a phalanx of White House reporters SPRINTING to get an image of Bush. Think about it. If the press corps respond so fervently to such an obvious, blatant, and pathetic carrot, how could they possibly imagine they deserve any respect?

Nancy Reagan was right on this one: "Just say No." Keep asking the bastard the same question. Press (as a Press CORPS) vs. the White House. They're working against the press; why not vice versa?

Posted by: dan at November 4, 2004 2:19 PM | Permalink

A.R.Yngve: Why should I trust the Fourth Estate to have a moment of insight, and say: "Hey guys, I just had an idea! Maybe we should stop assuming we are entitled to telling the public what to think! Maybe we could just report real events and not try to shape them!"

I read these idiotic theories by the "reality-based" commies that think the way to gain greater credibility and therefore beat the mean old Bush administration (or Reagan or pretty much conservatives in general) is to become more like Michael Moore and the Hollywood crowd - because, you know, they've proven sooooo effective.

What's the difference between the press distributing unfavorable information about Bush and Hollywood doing it?

What's the difference between Dan Rather and Michael Moore as far as the viewing public is concerned?

Besides the fact that Michael Moore has more credibility since he'll tell you he hates Bush. Neither is believed.

Want to know why the liberal populated MSM/press is more harmful to liberals/Democrats than conservatives/Republicans? Because the press is friendlier to liberals/Democrats! Nobody listens (much) or really pays attention when someone criticizes an enemy or praises a friend, but when someone gossips about or criticizes a friend - then our ears perk up.

The problem with Jay's thesis (and it's author, Eric Alterman) about the Right's religion is that it is exactly because the liberal media is not harshly critical of liberals that any criticism is so harsh.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 2:34 PM | Permalink

Well then you should be real happy about THIS Tim.

God (a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the Republican party) has obviously seen fit to punish John Edwards for daring to run against Dick Cheney by giving his wife breast cancer.

Doubtless the Kerry's will get theirs too -- probably drowning in a massive wind-surfing accident.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at November 4, 2004 2:50 PM | Permalink

Wasn't this suggested in the New York Observer, a month ago?

Memo to Rather: Out-Fox the Critics—Go Left, Old Man!

Posted by: Ragnar at November 4, 2004 2:52 PM | Permalink

David Ehrenstein: God (a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the Republican party) has obviously seen fit to punish John Edwards

Tasteless. What would possess you to say this.

Posted by: sbw at November 4, 2004 3:19 PM | Permalink

David Ehrenstein,

I wonder David, when you write something like that, what you think. Does it give you some release to write that I "should be real happy" that Elizabeth Edwards has been diagnosed with breast cancer?

How do you rationalize attributing such thoughts to me?

The reason I'm curious is because Mark A. York, another self-proclaimed liberal was banned from here for doing exactly the same thing under some kind of belief that "they" deserve it - that anyone not chanting the mantra of the tribe should be dehumanized and viciously attacked.

Ben Franklin has also seen fit to cross over into personal attacks based on his generalized stereotypes.

Uriel Wittenberg was another that seems to feel quite at ease cutting off discourse and categorizing anyone he finds disagreeable.

It's not that I don't enjoy that kind of discourse. I'm more than happy telling you, as Jay told me once, to "Fuck off" or tweaking the insecurities of someone who wants to try to "Limbaugh" me.

But what really interests me is how you resolve what should be the cognitive dissonance of calling yourself a liberal AND doing it.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 3:20 PM | Permalink

You think liberals are pussies, don't you "Tim"? We're supposed to be so nicey, nicey, nice that you neo-fascists can spout any crap you damn well please and we won't DARE to fight back.

Well think again.

Posted by: David Ehrenstein at November 4, 2004 3:30 PM | Permalink

Go back to old, old style journalism of reporting facts without passing them through the leftist, out-of-touch-with-mainstream-America filter and you'll have a winner!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this boils down to "report stuff I agree with."

I hate to sound like a broken record, but... All people have biaes. Nonetheless, people generally believe that they themselves are not biased, and that their beliefs are true; it's the stupid rest of the world that doesn't get it. I have argued before (and until someone disagrees with the point I'll run with it) that when someone asks the press to be objective and report the truth, they are asking the press to report what I believe to be true. Given that everyone is sometimes wrong, a press that was truly objective (which this one is not) would never agree with someone's bias 100% of the time. Hence it would be attacked by all sides as being biased.

Posted by: ErikaEM at November 4, 2004 3:42 PM | Permalink

Tim, we need you to cut us some slack right now. This came as a shock. We're not in our normal state of mind. Give us a week or two for bereavement, then hold us to our usual standards.

Posted by: Anna at November 4, 2004 3:45 PM | Permalink

David Ehrenstein: ... that you neo-fascists can spout any crap you damn well please and we won't DARE to fight back.

You're not fighting back, David, and you're not a pussy.

You are petty, arrogant, angry, hostile and an ass, which pretty much means you have more in common with what you think are your enemies than you are willing to admit.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 3:54 PM | Permalink


I'm sorry, but that would imply that this is something new. That this isn't indicative of what discourse has been.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 3:55 PM | Permalink

Slack? I would rather hear the exultation. It's more revealing. It rewards the alert ear. So too the calls to repent and convert, like "Go back to old, old style journalism of reporting facts."

Posted by: Jay Rosen at November 4, 2004 3:56 PM | Permalink

You do like to give us enough rope, don't you? :-)

Friedman via Ben:
"Despite an utterly incompetent war performance in Iraq and a stagnant economy, Mr. Bush held onto the same basic core of states that he won four years ago - as if nothing had happened. It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on."

"It would be interesting if, in those exit polls, someone had asked each voter, in addition to who they voted for and why: what are your three top sources of information? I'd love to see the red state/blue state map annotated with media preferences."

I've been seeing this (Debbie's pt.) lately - if you only listen to your team's media, seeming utter unawareness that there's another side.

Perhaps the increased polarization results from increased suburban sprawl - if you spend more time driving to work each day, you're spending more time listening to the radio, and those same 20 songs get _awfully_ boring, so whose talk radio show will you listen to instead?

Posted by: Anna at November 4, 2004 3:59 PM | Permalink

Eleven states just voted that David E. is a second class citizen. His remark was stupid and hurtful. But the party you're so proud of, that you imagine is such a culture victim, just took away his ability to visit his partner in a hospital or will an estate to him. Fuck you.

I think your outrage that Kerry didn't help silence war crimes in Vietnam is even more stupid and hurtful because it goes beyond the politics of Tim and David into revisionism of US history. The kind that justifies the current idiocy in Iraq.

When you support historical revisionism in Vietnam (outrage that Kerry would speak the truth about war crimes in Vietnam to Congress), you invite personal attack the old-fashioned way--you earn it.

Do you imagine you are not personally responsible for what you say and the party you militantly support? Who's the "liberal" here (and I mean that in the most fascist/Republican sense of "liberal")?

I'm tired of people like Kerry who call for bipartisanship so Republicans can step on their throat without troubling themselves. Fuck that. This is a popular front, not a liberal reunion. Fascism brings people together like that.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at November 4, 2004 4:00 PM | Permalink

I have to say, David's anguished lunacy does please me. Will we see further developments in the Left's crack-up since 2000? Will the 2008 race be angrier, crazier, now with more Soros?

As to the media, I find myself coming to PressThink less and less because, while an engaging writer, Rosen seems to have fallen into a pattern and I'm getting less and less out of it with each essay he puts up.

Television journalism is finished. Kiss it goodbye. The fact that The Daily Show, a glib comedy program, is seen as being on the same level or even somewhat more respectable than the TV press should tell you that what you are watching is edutainment, not hard news coverage.

Who needed the networks on election day? They provided nothing useful. I went to C-SPAN and got all the information I needed or wanted. (I'm surprised that in all this handwringing about the press, C-SPAN's unique and salutary role is seldom mentioned.)

The print press is already headed in the direction of the British pick-a-side tabloids, personally I believe the main thing holding them back is that most lack engaging writers in the newsroom. What we will end up with here, I suspect, is something more along the lines of Time Magazine, which I hope we can all agree would be pretty sad.

Posted by: Brian at November 4, 2004 4:14 PM | Permalink

C-SPAN has come up early and often. It is universally regarded in a positive light and is part of the cable offensive that has changed the media landscape. You're right, you haven't been keeping up much lately.

Posted by: Ben Franklin at November 4, 2004 4:23 PM | Permalink


1) Ben: the "Party" didn't vote for 11 ammendments, people did. People of unknown party affiliation. If you have facts use them, but "parties" don't vote for anything.

2) This conflation of "moral values" with religous zealotry is another jump in logic. Is "moral values" simply: I didn't like the untruths (read postmodern constructionism if you must, or nuances if that is better) of the other guy; or is it integrity (as in standing for a position for more than two meetings); or is it against judicial fiat? What do you know of moral values that leads you to assume that this is about religious fundamentalism?

3) The whole moral values thing is the result of exit polls. These are the known to be flawed exit polls. How far does anyone wish to take an argument that starts with flawed data?

Back to the Press: I'll mourn for the passing of its current incarnation, and look for its next. The Grey Lady is Dead. Long live the Grey Lady.

Posted by: John Lynch at November 4, 2004 4:30 PM | Permalink

Ben Franklin,

Kerry's problem is that Vietnam vets were stereotyped as war criminals and baby killers and he couldn't demonstrate the care he and VVAW took to distinguish between those that were serving honorably, those that had not, in a war he was fighting against.

If he could have, he would have knocked it out of the park, especially in context of Iraq, soon after he locked up the nomination in February campaigning as the "chest full of medals" "war hero" against the AWOL "deserter" Bush.

He never did. He never faced Kerry the war protester. He never faced his accusers.

So when you attribute to me your stupid and assinine accusations, it only proves - again - your own ignorance.

I'm not outraged "that Kerry didn't help silence war crimes in Vietnam". I outraged that he didn't do it while he was IN Vietnam. That he didn't do it with the care and immediacy required of a Naval officer. That he came back and did not speak out as loudly against branding everyone as a baby killer and war criminal as he was speaking out against the war.

Now if you can get past your broad brush stereotyping of me - actually read and think about what I'm writing as an individual not affiliated or working for the Republican party or Bush - we might come to an understanding.

If not, then OK, fuck you too.

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2004 4:37 PM | Permalink

All Media Consumption Is Local, So Too the Problems With Public Opinion

The national media critics on the press, like the national media on politics, tend to focus mostly on the problems of big national media.

Yes the New York Times was AWOL in this election cycle, neutered thanks to Jayson Blair and easily dismissed and denied access on the vice president's plane and made fun of by the Bush administration. How did they respond? By going out of their way to support the war effort and bending over backwards to make Bush's election, in the fair and balanced tradition, of looking just great.

A more informed and academic exercise might focus on examining the views of the slim majority who elected Bush alongside where they get their information. Most of the people in the red states who voted for Bush have never read the New York Times – and never will.

If they read at all, they read conservative chain papers like the one's owned by Newhouse all over the South. Mostly, they watch local TV news. About 70 percent rely almost totally on local TV news for information about the world, according to academic research.

The Washington debate about the FCC's role in allowing corporations to own even more newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same market is interesting, and captured the public's imagination in unexpected ways. Perhaps there is a lesson in that.

But if there was anything left of a watchdog press in America, the New York Times and others would take a hard look at the information getting to the red state folks. From here at southernet/net/blog, it's not hard to make the connection to why people vote the way they do. Of course some academic research training also helps.

Apparently, the "reality-based community" doesn't get this. Much like Paris Hilton who had no clue what they sold at Wal-mart, the media establishment doesn't have a clue how bad the information is on "Happy Talk" TV news, invented for commercial purposes during the Ronald Reagan "morning in America" era.

We suggest the watchdog press go after the FCC to try changing this situation. Of course that is going to be difficult under Bush's "mandate."

As my mentor from the University Alabama says, the bloggers are the modern-day Tom Paines. The way we see, it is going to take an army of bloggers to turn this situation around, along with a big, hard dose of reality. Chances are, Osama bin Laden and his horde of new followers in the Middle East will provide that in the not too distant future.

Are we ready?

Southerner Daily News

Posted by: Glynn Wilson at November 4, 2004 4:42 PM | Permalink

Ben: But the party you're so proud of, that you imagine is such a culture victim, just took away his ability to visit his partner in a hospital or will an estate to him.

To fix that you have to focus on it. Neither your message nor David's did.

I want David to have the ability to visit his partner in the hospital and to will an estate to him. Let's change the law. Now. And I'll bet you'll get many thousands of Bush-voting Republicans to support the legislation to do so -- including some Bible-thumping Republicans, too.

But I also want civil discourse and neither your expletives -- which I use on occasion but not on others' blogs -- nor David's bizarre accusation helps.

Posted by: sbw at November 4, 2004 4:47 PM | Permalink

I recognize the glaring shortcomings of the modern media. Both candidates regularly distorted their opponents positions, not to mention their own records, and the press could not hold them accountable. Likewise the stage-managed campaign that Bush especially ran was a disgrace to the idea of participatory democracy. The man never faced the people, only his fans. But when we talk about the press becoming more partisan simply because that's the trend, I am troubled. Perhaps there is a place for more opinion or an advocacy style of journalism, but can't we still have something that says, "this is the complete story - as much as we can deliver it - without spin" ?
There must be a way that electronic media - cable networks, in particular, - can partition off the opinion side the way that newspapers do.
All we need is the will.

Posted by: S. Wooldridge at November 4, 2004 4:52 PM | Permalink

To slightly amend the point of media consumption being local. Times are changing. With absence of decent coverage, coverage is found anyway.

Election thoughts from Iraq has some of the elitism of NYT captured.

Posted by: John Lynch at November 4, 2004 5:13 PM | Permalink

Anna: I've been seeing this (Debbie's pt.) lately - if you only listen to your team's media, seeming utter unawareness that there's another side.

Me three. I absolutely see a cycle where people gravitate to the media that supports their beliefs, the media in turn reinforces those beliefs, sources reporting contradictory things become suspect and biased, people gravitate toward the media that supports their beliefs... Same things happens on blogs.

And everybody, could we cut the vitrol please. Bashing each other doesn't do any good that I can see, and it just makes things distasteful for the rest of us.

Posted by: ErikaEM at November 4, 2004 5:26 PM | Permalink

I am extremely pissed at having to close comments because of what some will do with them. Extremely.

Posted by: Jay Rosen at November 5, 2004 6:16 PM | Permalink

Adding to Anna's and ErikaEM's point:

The Internet and Democratic Debate:

However, some motives for learning political arguments may fall short of this ideal. It is possible, for example, that some Kerry supporters have found out about pro-Bush arguments at stridently pro-Kerry Web sites or blogs. Their exposure to these arguments may be incidental to the fun of reading Kerry partisans eviscerate them. Still, even in the most partisan of online political scrums, this way of learning something about opposing viewpoints may have value. Moreover, those who use the internet this way are arguably not far removed from those who used America’s highly politicized newspapers at the turn of the 19th and into the early 20th centuries.

Whatever wired Americans’ motives for their use of the internet for news about politics, online resources are on balance a door-opener to a more informed political discourse. The convenience of the internet shifts some people away from the TV and newspaper and to the internet as a way to get news. They often get the same news they would otherwise get from traditional outlets. There are also signs that the internet is beginning, for home broadband users especially, to be a source for “online only” news or international news that would be very difficult to get otherwise. Even when people visit partisan sites, these are rarely their only news sources.

The worry that the internet might channel people into informational warrens of one-sided arguments is not borne out by the data in this report.

Posted by: Tim at November 6, 2004 10:38 AM | Permalink

Jay Rosen said:

There's too much happening. The public world is changing faster than we can invent terms for describing it. Here are some of the things the BBC reporter and I were trying to discuss:

* Political attacks seeking to discredit the press and why they're intensifying

Here's one observation from experience you may not notice in New York. I e-mailed a similar observation to Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times after his story on a related subject, one one side of it at least.

The News Media: Web Offers Hefty Voice to Critics of Mainstream Journalists

There is a feeling out here in the country, in this important election, that the right has moved the media to the right for the past quarter century, especially the Rush Limbaugh charge of "liberal media" along with his friends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Mainly people are thinking of local TV news and chain papers like the Newhouse papers around the South, other than the New York Times, since the don't read "that liberal newspaper." The thinking is, maybe it's time to attack from the left and move things back toward the middle. Is it working?

* Scandals in the news business and the damage they are sowing

As far as I'm concerned, Jayson Blair ruined a lot of things. No one's calling today's New York Times "the Bill Keller New York Times" as they did with Howell Raines. But imagine "flooding the zone" during the Bush-Kerry campaign. That's a newspaper I would have liked reading, a world I would have liked living in.

* The era of greater transparency and what it's doing to modern journalism

From the inside, I imagine it's taking too much time, having to respond to e-mails, if that's what you mean. My first reaction to it when it was new said it will make journalism more honest overall. It has worked in some cases, although we don't have the final word on the authenticity of the CBS memos. What if it turns out they are authentic?

False charges can slow things down and mire the participants, part of the strategy of the right, much like the left in some environmental fights. Stall and waste resources, much like some of the culture war fights over issues the government has little business getting involved in, in the first place, like trying to change the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage.

* Trust in the mainstream media and what's happening to it

Clearly they are losing the trust of the masses, but it's not all their fault. Perhaps they should spend more time investigating those who perpetuate the false charges against them, like Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction. It didn't get him off the radio, though. A decade ago, the media dealt a blow to televangelists, although Tammy Fae Baker and Jimmy Swaggart are still in business and on TV. But severely weakened.

* Bloggers, their role in politics, their effect on the press: their significance

Most likely overrated by the terms of the current debate, but certainly a growing trend.

* How the Net explosion is changing the relationship between people and news

Interesting area with lots of portents, the most important of which in my view is the possibility of individuals to reach an audience and make a living with their own printing press online. If it grabs the interest of 1 percent of the couch potato TV junkies it could swing the next election : )

* The collapse of traditional authority in journalism and what replaces it

Traditional authority is overrated. The news corporations still have it. The Web is the way around it. Under the First Amendment, to be a journalist of any kind in America does not require a license. It never will, in spite of the so-called "new professional class" of journalists, purportedly called that to elevate themselves above the so-called "craftsmen" of old. The only thing of value in this drive toward professionalism is that it moves journalists closer to the category of "public relations professionals" in more ways than one. We need to reexamine that role in our society at large and start asking questions instead of rewriting press releases, or should I say some should.

* Amateurs vs. professionals; distributed knowledge vs. credentialed expertise

What about the purest form of professionalism of them all, the free-lance journalist?

In the academic literature, autonomy over time and assignments and approach to stories is as important in professionalism as a good haircut and a bow tie. And if you look at the educational requirements, a journalism degree would be considered more valuable than an English degree from the Ivy League. Look at the high end of the journalism scale and see how many journalists have "professional" training, verses "liberal arts."

How professional is it, really, and who is to say what has value, other than the reader?

* The entrance of new players of all kinds in presidential campaigning:

Great, the more the merrier. What are you worried about? The New York elite can't control everything. It certainly can't control the country in this case to convince a majority not to vote for George W. Bush. Too bad, but you can't.

SDN: All Media Consumption Is Local

* The producer revolution underway among former consumers of media:

Produce away. You mean Michael Moore? Let the buyer beware.

* Jon Stewart and why he seems to be more credible to so many

Not so, just funnier. People would rather laugh than cry when watching TV. (See comments about "Happy Talk TV".

* "He said, she said, we said" and why it's such a bitter issue in politics

Because it doesn't tell the reader anything. Watching a program on C-SPAN as I type this. Some good answers from Elisebeth Blumiller and others on how a lot of papers had reporters act as fact checkers and plug that into stories this time around. Great stuff. Do more of it.

* The "reality-based community" thesis and the Bush Administration

Great theoretical argument, totally lost on those who are not in the "reality-based community." : )

* The political divide and the passions it has unleashed this year

Terrible and wonderful at the same time. Maybe in a second term the intelligentsia in this country (woops, that sounds Soviet, how about Brights, or just smart people) will finally wake up and realize they have to engage to save the world. That would be something to see, and write about.

* Why the culture war keeps going, this year reaching the mainstream press

Its keeps going because it is not over and there is no way one side or the other will ever win it. It's not like a football game, although that's how a lot of my southern brethren see it. That's how Bush sees it, or at least that's how he presents the war on terrorism. Maybe that's part of his secret? A Karl Rove flash of brilliance?

* Why periods of intense partisanship coincide with high involvement

There's a real need to be involved. This time the issues hit home for people, in terms of life and their pocketbook. Why engage if everything's a-oh-K? The roaring 20s? The raging '90s?

* The problem of propaganda and the intensity of its practice in 2004

When I suggest to some of my journalism friends that the Bush propaganda is subtle, they scoff. To them it's blatant. But look at Bush when he's up there. He's not pounding his fist on the podium too much, openly brandishing a gun or a sword and screaming phrases about the superiority of the white race or the German race. He just looks like a regular cowboy, frat boy from Texas having trouble with his phrases. How can this guy be dangerous? He's "the man" down the street at Bubba's Pub.

* Why argument journalism is more involving than the informational kind

Only for news and political junkies. Mom hates it. She likes Pam Huff on Ch. 13 News, the NBC affiliate, and Tom Brokow. So do 70 percent of the American people, they just don't live in New York or LA or Washington or Boston.

* Assaults on the very idea of a neutral observer, a disinterested account

Whoever is doing that would probably fall into the "post-modern" camp, although they probably don't know that, and could care less. They are not part of the "reality-based community," really.

* And then there's this: the separate realities of Bush and Kerry supporters

Science v. religion. Not so hard to grasp, although it's not quite that simple. A lot of post-modernists supported Kerry : )

Every one of these things is related to all the others . . . There's too much reality rushing over us every day just now. And it's pushing me to the limits of my own vocabulary. Can anyone help? . . .. Hit the comment button and tell us: what connects the items on my list?

The connections I see are these. You are grappling with the relationships between the media and the public and the media and government. These relationships are clearly changing, and as some of us see it, breaking down in some areas and breaking out in others.

Who's up? Who's down? Will the world look better or worse?

We have a short time to figure it out, unless Bush really turns out to be a "uniter" and "not a divider." Now there's a great piece of propaganda.

Many idealist, optimists in the national media are still holding out to see if it's true or not. See Thomas Freedman's recent column in the Times:

Some bloggers have it figured out, and may provide cover for mainstream journalists who see it too and want to publish the truth themselves. But there's always that nagging tendency on the part of the mainstream press to try and hold on to its monopolies for economic reasons, just like the corporations who tell our government what to do now with their former employees running every department of this federal government.

We need a fundamental debate about the nearly complete capitalization of information bringing us to the technological revolution, which is working in the opposite direction. The implications are not less and probably much more important than understanding what happened in the former Soviet Union.

The main problem is, can the American media really conduct that kind of analysis, with the capitalist stake at the heart of it? Somehow I doubt it.

Posted by: Glynn Wilson at November 6, 2004 12:12 PM | Permalink

A few days ago (before I saw this excellent post on PressThink), I wrote Paging the 4th Estate at my blog:

Where is the mainstream media while real life is going on? I can't understand how they keep talking about how this election went so smoothly, without problems or legal challenges, etc. reports that "voters in 39 states reported problems with e-voting machines... That's every single state that uses electronic voting machines, including swing states, such as Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania." has documented widespread voter intimidation across the country. And we all know some voters in Ohio had to wait in line 9 hours to vote. This might be considered a "smooth election" in Haiti or Afghanistan, but if this is "the greatest democracy in the world," then the world is even more fucked than I thought.

The media is not reporting the facts. The 4th Estate has crumbled. Go blogs!

Posted by: Ruby Sinreich at November 7, 2004 9:30 AM | Permalink

I just purchased a copy of George Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant" and am quite struck by the sharp difference between the Lippmann model of an objective world ultimately forcing adjustment of the pictures in our heads, and the Lakoff model based on neuropsychology and advertising research which goes as follows:

"And what is worse is a set of myths believed by liberals and progessives. These myths come from a good source, but they end up hurting us badly.

The myths began with the Enlightenment, and the first one goes like this:

'The truth will set us free. If we just tell people the facts, since people are bascially rational beings, they'll all reach the right conclusions.'

But we know from cognitive science that people do not think like that. People think in frames. The strict father and nurturing parent frames each force a certain logic. To be accepted, the truth must fit people's frames. If the facts do not fit a frame, the frame stays and the facts bounce off."

Journalism has to increasingly discuss frames as part of the story. An opposition press would have to increasingly and self-consciously work with frames that support the perspective they are trying to advance.

This position absolutely rejects the traditional objectivity standard for journalism as misguided regarding how communication and persuasion works. Are we convinced by this thesis? It seems to be operational in the campaigns. How does this compare to the approach of Frank Luntz in his Republican handbooks? What do we think about this? What are the consequences?

Posted by: Ben Franklin at November 7, 2004 1:16 PM | Permalink

poker online

Posted by: poker online at November 7, 2004 2:02 PM | Permalink

Whiners about Republican and SBVT victimization by the "liberal" media are proven empirically wrong when the smoke clears. The name recognition figure alone puts this legend to bed in a world where reality matters.

It was a strategic scam:

"FOX News Channel managing editor and chief Washington correspondent Brit Hume was among those who touted the group's impact following the election. In September, however, Hume expressed dismay to Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz about the lack of media attention paid to the group and explained why FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume had devoted so much time to the group's false allegations against Kerry: "We thought it was a totally legitimate story and found it an appalling lapse by many of our competitive news organizations that were treating that story like it was cancerous."

Hume explained SBVT's effectiveness this week:

"[A] new poll in twelve key battleground states shows that when it comes to which interest groups and their ads were most effective this campaign, the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth leads the pack. The poll conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates shows that 72 percent of voters were aware of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, compared with only 49 percent who knew about the anti-Bush group In addition, far more voters say the Swift Boat Veterans had the most impact than say that about any other group. What's more, 39 percent of Bush voters say the anti-Kerry group had the most impact while less than half that number of Kerry voters said that about that anti-Bush group." [FOX News Channel, Special Report with Brit Hume, 11/3/04]

Posted by: Ben Franklin at November 7, 2004 5:09 PM | Permalink

From the Intro