Saturday, May 05, 2007

First rule of Journalism-- don't have a bias!

Wow... and they say they're fair and balanced.

Fox News apparently decided that the world was showering Kurt Vonnegut's memory with too much admiration and respect-- you know with all the ticker tape parades, national day of mourning and panicked children rocking back and forth in corners of rooms the world over. Clearly someone needed to step in and take Kurt down a peg. (A whole peg!)

Published the day after Kurt's death, the piece is anything but journalism.

One of the first rules of journalism is to keep your bias out of the story. The idea, the fundamental idea of journalism, let me qualify that, modern journalism is to let the reader/viewer/consumer make up their own mind. It is our job to gather the news and report it, not pass judgment on it.

There is an exception. The editorial and opinion segments, and if you're confused by what is Op-Ed and what is News:

Andy Rooney at the end of 60min - Op-Ed
A word from the station director on the local news - Op-Ed
The preacher that stands on a box in front of the school water fountain - Op-Ed

Jim Lehrer's News Hour - News
BBC Radio - News
New York Times front page - News

Since when do we behave like this?

What has happened is that as the news has become a corporate investment, it's become less and less a news product and more and more a consumer product. Fox News is a product that gives a certain audience the news of the day with a slant that agrees with their pre-conceived notions and beliefs.

The news channel understands that they can make more money (a built in audience means reliable ratings and advertising rates that can be counted on for quarterly growth) by taking advantage of human nature. We like it when others agree with us, it makes I feel good, empowered and smart. Fox panders to this and gives us the news from a view that matches our views. Naturally those that watch it feel that Fox is telling them the truth and others are "liberal" outlets that lie.

They aren't doing anything wrong really, it's cable TV and the public has no say over it, but I do take issue in what they have done to journalism. If Fox News called itself a news magazine like Dateline, Inside Edition or Access Hollywood then I would have no problem with them. That transparent title and image would make it obvious what they are selling, but as it is now, they're ruining journalism in the public conscious and painting pictures of liberal and conservative journalism.

Journalism is not and should not have a political affiliation. The history of journalism tells us that early newspapers were fronts for political campaigns, we've since then evolved into taking on the watch dog role and broke stories on local and national news of importance.

Stories that society has benefited from knowing. Stories like Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair, Walter Reed hospital and the Vietnam War coverage.

Do we really want to go back to political mud slinging and erode the trust we've built?

This is pretty disgusting behavior coming from anyone. When Ronald Reagan, widely regarded as the Republican poster child and constantly sub noted by the right as an ideal to aspire to (who if Mel Brooks was still makes movies I'm convinced would use his picture as a prop in every preppy high schoolers room as 80s movies used posters of Farah Fawcett... okay I'm tangential again!) passed away I didn't see CNN or MSNBC or any of the big four running smear pieces. What is this?

This is propaganda, and I am pretty sure even the talking heads at Fox News don't want to be thought of or seen as shilling propaganda.

Kurt isn't on the scale of Regan, but my point is, Fox is trying to make this a political piece. And in watching the piece it almost seems like Fox is celebrating this man's death. What gives? Regardless of my political slant, I would be appalled at this behavior, and if I was part of the audience Fox targets (I don't have cable) I would be insulted if they assume I would rejoice in a man's death. What's next, book burnings? (OK, cheap shot.)

And just how many times did they use the word "liberal" in that piece? And is "mumbo jumbo" a technical term? And the cliff notes version is "I was born"... as if that is all that matters? I don't want to jump to conclusions, but could Kurt's anti-war leanings be among the sources of their irk?

It seemes like Fox is celebrating the death of this liberal science-fiction novelist. Hey that's alright Rupert I rather have someone that has something to say and comes up with new ideas than someone who just complains and bitches and moans about everything and never has anything constructive to say.


Unpublished SHAdays:
*Newspapers will allege that you did something, TV News will want to to know what you had for breakfast, who you slept with last night and when your last rectal exam was. ... Oh, and they want to know why you did it

*Sometimes when I want less melodrama and spectacle in my life, I turn off the TV News and turn on the soaps. (zing!)

President Clinton gets into it

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