The Structure of Conventional Journalism is Wrong

This link is to a rambling but interesting discussion, which crystallized some thoughts for me.

I have been thinking some about the failure of modern journalism.  Yep failure.  In every one of the biggest stories of the past nearly 10 years, I think modern journalism has blown it.  Clinton Impeachment, The War on Terror, Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, etc.

How?  Because the structure of journalism is wrong.  The conventional practice is to essentially be a recorder of events.  Tell the story.  Balance is of course required, and so we have lots of "he said" and "she said." 

It is considered wrong, and not the province of news reporting to then go the next step and say, "well, what he said is only partially true and what she said is false in the following respects as well." 

There are a number of defects in this approach but two that stand out.  The first is, that by taking this so called "neutral" perspective, the profession fails at one of its essential missions -- contributing towards an informed polity.  

A balanced report with quotes from both sides cedes public opinion to the better spinmeister.  The public is not in a position to hold newsmakers accountable to the facts -- we have day jobs -- but journalists are.  Sticking strictly to "he said, she said" leaves the public without any help in parsing the spin to get to the truth, and so the better spin just wins.

The second failure is in serving the reader/audience.  Help!  I am drowning in information, and much of it is based on original source material created by people with a definite agenda.  I need a professional to help me parse it.  Sticking strictly to "he said, she said" doesn't' help me.  

This sounds like the same point twice, but it isn't.  The first problem is that the better spin wins, the second is that it isn't serving the customer's needs.

How do I know what the customer's needs are?  Well I don't, but I look at the success of Fox News, or the Daily Show, and I think, "hmmm... Maybe people want something more than just neutral reportage."

I'm not suggesting a left leaning alternative to Fox News.  Instead what I am suggesting is that mainstream media embrace the notion that it has to fairly, and without bias, hold newsmakers accountable to facts and history.  Perhaps this is analysis -- so what.  It's the right thing to do to serve the primary mission of the profession, and its smart business to meet customers needs.

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Saturday Schadenfreude: Fox News Ratings Down 24% Since Last Summer

It is perhaps a sign of the times. As approval ratings for the Bush administration and the Republican Congress continue to be mired in the 30s and below, so too has the viewership at Fox News fallen. And fast.

In June, we learned that network chief Roger Ailes was "on the warpath," putting his employees on notice after following a 22 percent drop in the core 25-54 demo and an 8 percent drop among total viewers in the second quarter. Now, Linda Moss of Multichannel News (via TVNewser) reports that ratings at Fox News Channel are down even bigger this summer.

ESPN, Fox News Channel, Nick at Nite and Hallmark Channel all tied with a 1.3 rating. ESPN and Hallmark were each up 18% versus last summer, while Fox News and Nick at Nite were both down 24%. [emphasis added]

In a separate post, Brian at TVNewser reports that ratings at Fox News in August were down 7 percent all day and 28 percent in primetime from the previous August at the same time that both CNN and MSNBC showed significant gains in viewership.

I don't want to overstate these numbers. Fox News still receives more viewers, both all day and during primetime, than CNN and MSNBC -- comined. However, at the same time last year, Fox News had almost twice as many viewers as CNN and MSNBC combined, so they have not only seen their numbers but also an even larger drop in their lead over their competition.

So the era of Fox News' domination of cable news may be coming to an end. And I don't think I'm going to get any arguments from this crowd that that's not a good thing.

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Fox News Transcript Cuts Coulter Rant

The Fox News transcipt of Coulter's interview on 'Hannity  & Colmes' last evening, appears incomplete.  Her shrill pleas to Hannity to come to her aid are nowhere in the Fox transcript.  

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Lets Have A Smack Down USA On The Neocons

Individuals like Bill Kristol (I call him Billy because his ideology is stunted and immature) do not understand the true meaning of America.  As with anyone who has grown up physically but whose social conscience has stymied at an elementary school level, his own self-interests and beliefs are always the underlining message in his articles.  His disregard for human life (except his own) makes it easy for him to push his idea of forcing democracy on the Middle East and other countries using the might of our military.  His narrow-minded view of the world like those of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, John Bolton, and most of the Republican Party leadership (dictatorship) has little if any understanding of the meaning of democracy.  Democracy as most of the world understands it is the will of the majority to exercise decision-making power subject to the rule of law and moderated by a constitution, which emphasizes the protection of liberties, freedoms, and rights of individuals and minorities.  Almost half of the world's population now lives under democratic regimes.  But our definition of democracy very likely will not work in the Middle East and who are we to push our values on another country.  Our government is not one to hold up as a positive example as our own freedom is being systematically stripped away.

Billy the kid wants war and after that, more war! His lust for global war drives him. He uses the corporate embedded news media of Fox (faux) News Channel and The Standard Weekly both which are financed by Rupert Murdoch to expound on his view of the world. He's also part of a think (stink) tank, which is just another way of saying that he's part of a group with the same narrow-minded views.  It is much easier to "think" inside this box than to promote creative discussion that offers actual value to America and citizens of other countries. For the good of the whole instead of the good of the few apparently is not a thought within the stink tank. Maybe a little less thinking and a little more caring would help.

Kristol is recognized in part for some of the foreign policy failures of the Bush administration.  In 2005, Kristol praised President Bush's inaugural address during Fox's coverage of the speech, as well as in a Weekly Standard article without disclosing his role as a consultant to the writing of the speech. What a stand up guy!
Billy the kid is morally bankrupt and if Bush had any sense he would ground this narcissistic warmonger and put him in a timeout. The message from the majority is that you go first Billy and we'll be right behind you (about 5,000 miles behind you).

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Ratings at Fox News Plummeting

For quite some time, Fox News has sat atop the ratings among the cable news networks -- by a fairly large margin. But as the trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable reports, the ratings at Fox -- particularly among the most important age demographic -- is dropping precipitously, worrying some of the big brass at News Corporation.

Slackers at Fox News Channel, you're on notice! Your boss is not pleased. Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes is on the warpath following his network's recent ratings slump, and he won't hesitate to clean house to turn things around.

So far during the second quarter, the No. 1 cable news channel's primetime schedule has dropped 22% in its core 25-54 demo and 8% in total viewers. The first quarter was even worse.


Production values are slipping, and bookers aren't competitive enough, relying too heavily on the same pool of faces and settling for authors or actors after they've already been on CNN or ... gasp ... MSNBC.

We as progressives have our work cut out for us in creating the type of infrastructure that helps conservatives maintain their political power, but the balance may soon be shifting in our favor. Ratings at Fox News are down two quarters in a row -- and not by insignificant amounts. A look at the most recent primetime ratings available on the TV Newser blog shows that MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" is edging ever closer to Fox News' big star, Bill O'Reilly, among the much-coveted 25-54 demographic (although Olbermann continues to trail big among all viewers).

And it seems that some progressives may be ready to invest the requisite dollars to bring some parity to the realm of cable as I found out at the Yearly Kos convention earlier this month.

But, as of this writing at least, the most interesting and important thing I heard during the duration of Yearly Kos was that progressives of means were contemplating the purchase of media outlets -- including television networks -- to help counteract the effect of the vast conservative media, from talk radio to Fox News. If these discussions come to fruition and a wholly progressive network of television and radio stations are able to reach the bulk of American voters, we will be able to greatly hasten the day when we are able to continue building on the forward-thinking policies of the New Deal era and the 1960s. Gauging by the seriousness with which some of the convention's attendees discussed this effort, I am cautiously optimistic that change could come sooner rather than later.

The ratings slide at Fox News only increases the optimism I found at the Yearly Kos convention.

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