Monday, May 10, 2010

Facts v. opinion. Does the nation lose?

The New York Times’ Frank Rich used the White House Correspondent’s Dinner over the weekend as his example in a discussion of how television has given up covering the news, noting the 24/7 cable “news” stations covered the dinner but not a bomb threat in Times Square.

It reminded me of a friend who is woefully ignorant of what’s going on in the world despite listening to talk radio and watching television “news.” He also regularly reads online news. Recently he asked another friend “Was there some controversy” about the 2000 presidential election. When the constitutional crisis was explained, he said, “Oh, yes. I guess I did hear something about it.” Despite listening and watching talk and “news” programs, he doesn’t have a clue about what’s really going on.

Rich decried television, especially the cable version, for its willingness to ignore facts that don’t fit its political slant. That’s a deep concern of mine. Presenting facts is at the core of journalism, and something we insure is instilled in our students. Is that going to work against them in finding jobs?

1 comment:

John McAdams said...

I'm not sure anybody from the Times, with a history of biased journalism, and assorted other scandals (remember Jason Blair?) has the credibility to lecture other media.

The truth is that a variety of different voices, coming at news from different biases, is a surer guarantee of an informed public than the old model where the Mainstream Media was scorekeeper, gatekeeper and arbiter of what was true and false.