Objective media is bullshit, and that’s ok

or, why Fox News might not be *so* bad

We’ve all heard a lot about “media bias” lately, and that’s a really tricky — and incredibly important — topic.

We can all agree that it’s good to know what’s going on in the world, and to base decisions on information that is as accurate as possible. We can also probably agree that by increasing the accuracy of our information, we inherently increase it’s complexity. Along the way, we each reach the point of information saturation and stop trying to drink directly from the fire hose. Instead, we start looking for someone else who’s willing to aggregate, analyze, and compress information for us. Enter the media.

Let’s face facts: there’s no such thing as “objective journalism.” Every camera is pointed in some direction. Every video is edited. Every reporter, editor, and producer acts as a filter for the information they pass along. There is, however, plenty of room for the ideas – and practices! – of fairness (give all sides of an issue equal opportunity to make their case) and accuracy (tell it like it is, without spin, and fer Pete’s sake, check the facts!) in the media.

So where does that leave us? With a whole lot of sources of information that each have a particular slant and “flavor.” Are these sources biased? Uh, yeah. Is that a bad thing? Not as long as they try to be fair and accurate.

We’re all big boys and girls and can deal with bias. The evil that we really need to guard against is two-faced: On one side is compromised journalism (media not being fair and accurate); on the other is external control of the press (via consolidation, legislation, or intimidation).

This morning, Will Bunch at Philly.com has this to say about journalistic objectivity and claims of bias in the press:

“…my personal belief that the greatest role for journalists is not to make sure that every story has 50 percent of one side and 50 percent of the other side – but that the vital function for reporters is to preserve democracy and the freedom of the press, because without those freedoms a valid media would cease to exist. Yes, they’re voicing outrage today inside the sacred sanctuary of the Temple of Objective Journalism , where the celebrants nervously fingered their rosaries rather than confront the Constitutional bonfire that was building outside.

“But for eight years now, there’s been an out-of-control fire raging outside of that temple – a fire that was built upon the USA Patriot Act and Guantanamo and rendition and torture and signing statements and 16 words in a State of the Union Address. Ultimately, saving the last fabric of democracy is more important than worrying about what contrived commandments of journalism were stepped on while the blaze was finally extinguished.

“I myself would call it truth-telling, and honest journalism, but now we have some who want to call it ‘media bias.’ That’s fine with me, but understand this.

“’Media bias’ may have just saved America .

Read the rest of Will’s post…

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