August 9, 2008

"When do journalists have to 'protect' readers from Untruth masking itself as dissent or skepticism?"

Asks Ron Rosenbaum.


rhhardin said...

Journalists write for a commercial business. They'll write whatever is necessary to the business model, which chiefly is governed by the audience they can attract.

The business model in turns attracts the right kind of journalists to write for it.

Show me an audience for global warming skepticism that is big enough and loyal enough to support a news operation, and I'll show you a news operation that reports global warming skepticism.

Otherwise, it loses the interest of the existing audience, and therefore cannot be written.

It's not an ethical matter at all.

Though the public relations narrative for the existing news businesses cite their ethics as part of their appeal to their audience. That's doesn't make it true. It's public relations, that's all.

rhhardin said...

What is the ethical responsibility of soap opera shows?

To attract and hold audience.

Christy said...

Who decides is the big question. Journalists really do not know enough. Policy wonks in the government are just that, policy wonks, and have no business censoring dissenting views.

I personally would never look to the EPA for guidance, but journalists undoubtedly do. Granted, I have a huge prejudice against the EPA and have always found them wanting in people who actually understand science. Honest to God, I once got into a big argument with an EPA guy at a conference when talking about mixed waste, which is a combo of both radioactive and hazardous waste. I remember saying to him that what he was talking about defied the laws of physics. His reply, "Doesn't matter. I have to worry about the laws of Congress." That struck me at the time as probably the operating mind-set at the EPA.

I do know that in coverage of nuclear power, journalists, in attempting to be balanced, gave equal weight to well regarded scientists and to those who were essentially flat-earthers. Back then I blamed Galileo's legacy. The press deified the lone dissenters talking truth to power. What happened? Now the (not so) lone dissenters are to be ignored?

LarsPorsena said...

"Show me an audience for global warming skepticism that is big enough and loyal enough to support a news operation, and I'll show you a news operation that reports global warming skepticism."

Show me a MSM outlet that is running in the black and then we can talk about business models.

Most MSM outlets today are vanity projects supported by other corporate holdings. They appeal to a smaller and smaller segments of the general population. Hence, the rise of AA et al.

Elliott A said...

Once upon a time, journalists held themselves to a higher standard since they were the only source of news and information and enough of them had a conscience. Today, for most people, they provide almost no news and information and have become irrelevant from that standpoint. Only the entertainment value remains. Lastly, since they are almost 95% liberals, they don't believe the untruths are, in fact, untrue!

knox said...

Green Journalists? Yeah, that's what we need. We don't really hear enough about the environment.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Is that why your chicken porn magizine didn't make it RH?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It has become increasingly apparent that the news media are censoring the news and concealing information that they just don't agree with. The news media are not reporting news. They are propaganda machines spewing the viewpoints that are acceptable to themselves and to their handlers.

We just spent 5 days away from our computers, away from alternative news sources and only able to obtain local newspapers and view the "alphabet" networks on television. The lack of information and the hidden/buried stories shocked us. It's no wonder that the general American public is so ignorant and badly informed.

They want us to be ignorant. They don't want us to be informed voters. If we are informed and able to make decisions with all the facts, our intrenched political leaders will lose power. This is a situation that has been going on for decades and it is only now with the advent of the Internet and alternate news sources that the people are beginning to wake up. Of course this "just won't do" so the Fairness Doctrine (censorship bill) will be soon again raising it's ugly head.

Palladian said...

Green Journalists? Yeah, that's part of the problem. Too many of the so-called "journalists" are as green as a sapling and in way over their heads. Journalism school prepares you for absolutely nothing in terms of real, lived experience. Go, "Journalists, have a life, learn something about something, study science, then get back to us in 20 years or so when you actually have something to report.

rhhardin said...

Is that why your chicken porn magizine didn't make it RH?

You can go here for a cumulative (in reverse time order) slide show of pics that have had roosters in them, if you want.

rhhardin said...

My point is that the journalists are lefty/green because the business model selects them; the business isn't lefty/green because of the journalists who happen to be in the profession, but because it's the only viable business model for the profession.

If you seek the ultimate cause, seek the audience.

PatCA said...

First, we need to define "dissent." The Founding Fathers dissented within a philosophical and political framework for governance. They debated openly; they extended a body of knowledge and thought based on reason.

The "dissent" of today's media and elites is more prosletyzing by the religion Rosenbaum speaks of and is largely driven by hatred and contempt for the West. It does not even begin to rise to the standards of the original, true dissenters.

Trooper York said...

RH, you freak me out man.

Middle Class Guy said...

Let's see, hundreds of real scientists are questioning global warming and the models and methods used by the paltry fiftysome and Al Gore. I guess the media ignores the majority to pander to a few in the minority. The real reaso- there is more money to be made on global warming, green initiatives and reproting than there is on seeking truth. The truth will set one free but the truth never fills the corporate coffers.

Elliott A said...

My son told me about Edwards months ago, while he was still a candidate, yet it wasn't until the National Enquirer broke the story that the old media reported it. Thirty years ago they would have been on it like flies on molasses. I suppose it was more valuable for there to be a third candidate at that time. DBQ is right about the censoring of news, yet I feel it is more an attempt to control the story line of their entertainment than be ideological conspirators. They have hooked onto environmental news because it never goes away. There can always be another environmental disaster looming.

P. Rich said...

I would agree with rh 9:27 if:

1. Print newspapers and major TV news networks represented a competitive open market with low barriers to entry (thus requiring responsiveness to demand), and

2. Fully realizing their most salable product is informational news (not propaganda), they were all driven by a good old capitalistic profit motive to provide an appropriate supply.

But they don't, and they aren't, so I don't. Journalists write whatever allows them to keep their jobs. Inside a liberal quasi-news organization, it'a obvious what that has become.

P. Rich said...'s...

Old eyes. Really.

bearbee said...

My point is that the journalists are lefty/green because the business model selects them....

So with the impending energy crunch, when we begin to experience rolling blackouts, when heating costs double and triple and food prices really begin to soar, the business model will shift as public attitudes shift?

Makes sense. Prior to WW2, the media along with the public were isolationist. After Pearl Harbor it was gung-ho war.

Will be interesting to observe as with BO, the NYT begins to back drilling.

re: 3 roosters, no hens?

Trooper York said...

RH kinda digs male poultry.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

You see hens like soap operas. Can't have that now can we?

PatCA said...

If that's the business model, it's not a very good one.

The audience has spoken:

The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper

rhhardin said...


There may be no viable business model for news; but if there is one, soap opera news is it. 40% of women, 20% of the population, which is enough to support the operation, probably.

It's a minority but a big enough one.

Nobody wants city council meeting news, by comparison.

The trouble is that the tastes of the 20% minority select the journalists and edit public debate.

rhhardin said...


One day last September, 8 white leghorn roosters showed up. I'd imagine dropped off by a kindly hobby egg farming operation that had no use for more than one rooster, after (a) the sex is obvious and (b) it's coming up on the time of year when they'd have to feed them.

One left immediately (can be heard in the distance in the morning) to live elsewhere; seven hung around, apparently liking the tree they had discovered out back, for roosting.

A neighbor's dog escaped and did in three of them at once after a few months (roosters are not smart; they will leap from a tree to escape a dog below), and one more left, leaving the three you see today.

When the neighbor's dog escapes again, probably the population will disappear, if it doesn't disappear owing to a non-replacement birth rate sooner. Sort of like the Japanese.

Trooper York said...

Yeah that explanation is very believable. Roosters living peacefully disappearing one by one near the home of a reclusive dude who the neighbors don’t really know. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

I think I saw this on an episode of Criminal Minds.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I found that the editorial gave the best short summary of Wright's view of "black liberation theology," especially the concept of "transformation," and made a strong case that Wright and his views deserve attention rather than derision. He shouldn't be erased from public discourse with the excuse that we've "moved on," that we're all "post-racial" now."

I couldn't agree more. I suspect, however, that a more in-depth coverage of Rev. Wright would have been exasperating rather than mitigating.

"It rather presents itself as a guide for "green journalists" on what aspects of climate change should be covered"

There should be no green journalists. There should be journalists.

Green journalists are no different than yellow journalists.

Middle Class Guy said...

Trooper York said...
Yeah that explanation is very believable. Roosters living peacefully disappearing one by one near the home of a reclusive dude who the neighbors don’t really know. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

They are going to make a movie on it. “Men in Shorts”

AllenS said...

First they came for the roosters, and we didn't speak up because we weren't leghorns; then they came for Trooper York, and we all said: "Don't bite off more than you can chew!"

Synova said...

I'll admit to getting somewhat annoyed at the journalists giving a "balanced view" of issues that aren't balanced issues. I figure that a journalist... or more accurately a "news reporter"... should make an attempt to favor facts over opinions.

I'm thinking of the 2004 pre-election draft scare reporting where alarmed and alarming anti-draft mothers were interviewed and if the reporter found a "balancing" view it was presented as no more or less rational than the other. No facts, such as finding out if anyone had actually promoted a draft or finding out the *source* of the rumors that were frightening people, were a concern at all.

I do think that reporting ought to, on some level, be investigative reporting. A reporter should favor the facts if at all possible and should attempt to determine what the facts actually are.

I think that presenting alternative views as if those views are equal is a problem because sometimes one side is clearly rational and right and the other is clearly not. There is also the problem that the *journalist* gets to chose who gets to represent which side of the issue... and they may not bother to find an *articulate* pro-lifer (for example).

As for Wright: What is black liberation theology *is* an interesting and relevant question. It shouldn't have been backed off on regardless if the result was more people condemning it or if a more thorough exploration would convince people that it's not as racist as it sounds.

As for Global Warming: The time for skepticism has happened after the "movement" progressed to a point that everyone had to pay attention. And we are hearing more about skepticism lately even if half the back-to-school clothes this year have the word "green" on them and the other half have skulls.

"Green" journalists, if they are actually as biased as that sounds, should welcome the opportunity to engage the skeptics. If they are right, after all, a clear investigation will show that AGW is a true threat.

The biggest reason that I don't think it is is that there is a distinct lack of rational actions connected to the emotional appeal of the world being on the brink. The true believers don't actually believe and they prove it by buying a Prius so that they can continue in other carbon-making activities guilt free. If it were REAL it would not be about feelings but about pragmatic facts. The process of buying off the guilt of an Earth Damaging lifestyle would not get one kudos from your Earth Loving friends.
And it goes on.

"Green" journalists have helped to bring the issue of Global Warming to a place where everyone *has* to pay attention, and those who have to pay attention are going to write articles like the one in Slate with greater frequency.

I hope the greenies are prepared for the results of their success.

John K. said...

Good article. After reading it, one should be in a better frame of mind to evaluate objectively the scientific merits of the non-"consensus" view that induced abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. See, e.g., here: