‘The Media’s’ perception of themselves

This is likely going to be a contentious post:  most of the mainstream media (MSM) has a very high opinion about themselves, so if any members of the MSM actually come across this post, they will not be happy…  But, with their view of ‘bloggers’ in general and this being a rather small, not well known blog in particular, somehow I doubt this is likely.

In my never-humble-opinion, there are two completely different reasons why the MSM opinion of themselves is so high.

The first one is very easy to explain – it applies mostly to TV journalists.  In addition to the second one (to be described bellow), many TV journalists (and some print ones) are, recognized when they are out in the public.  This is due to the nature of their job – their images are piped into our homes… and we insist on treating them as celebrities…  So, it is not very surprising that some of them begin to suffer from ‘celebrititis’:  the mistaken belief that because one is a famous celebrity, one is smarter and better informed than mere mortals are…

The second one is much more difficult to express accurately…

Perhaps because many ‘Western’ journalists have – during the middle part of the 20th century – earned for themselves a reputation of integrity and impartiality, today’s journalists automatically expect the same sort of respect and that same presumption of impartiality.  

Yet, many journalists today are unable or unwilling to understand that this reputation was earned by specific journalists.  It is not simply a quality conferred onto someone by the virtue of selecting a respected profession and getting trained in it (if they even bother to).  Riding on the coat-tails of your predecessors only works for so long before those coat-tails are too threadbare to support your weight!

Even some left-wing journalists are admitting our media is left-wing biased.  Just look at some of our ‘Journalism professors’!  No wonder this crop of journalists, well, the way it is!!!  And people are beginning to notice. 

Yet, some journalists remain unable or unwilling to face reality.  There is a guy who has a 1-hour call-in talk show on my local radio station in the mornings.  This guy drives me nuts by attacking each and every caller who even peripherally mentions ‘media bias’.  According to him, there is no such thing – and it is an insult to suggest something like that exists.  He looses it and goes postal on anyone who even hints about media bias.  His ‘usual’ attack goes something like this:

‘Do you think that you are that much smarter than everyone else?  Do you think that everyone else is too stupid to figure out what you did?  You need to know ‘both sides’ of a strory to judge if there is ‘media bias’ in how it is reported. 

So, if you can see out both sides of the story from what you read and hear – and be convinced of the ‘other than your imagined bias’ side, then obviously, the media gave you enough balanced, unbiased information out of which you were able to form your view!  And if you can figure it out, why do you think everyone else is too dumb to do the same?  I find your insinuation very insulting!’

He varies that rant – but that is the gist of it….and he can really get worked up about it!

Of course, what this journalist (he was a newspaper editor and still writes columns) does not allow his browbeaten caller to get a word in edgewise, to explain that most people are not information junkies!  Yet, some of us are

Because, in my never-humble-opinion, it is only people who are obsessed (or just ‘highly motivated’) to obtain all kinds of information who are the ones who end up digging up both sides of any story!  And, at times, it really means ‘digging up’!!! 

Because the substance of the story is often very, very deeply burried.   (By whom and why varies – I am not going in for one of them ‘Global Conspiracy Theories’ – rather, I consider this more along he lines of ‘expediency-complacency theory’ or ‘career-objectives compliance theory’ – if you get my drift. 

So, people who want to find out what is going on do not simply read the newspapers, watch TV News or listen to the radio – there, they only find the ‘expedient’ or highly ‘normalized’ (for ‘normalized’, read ‘spun’) version of what is going on! 

Instead, these people turn to the internet.  There, they can find eyewitness accounts of some events.  There, they can find non-journalist written reports (as one tiny example, Amnesty International did carry factual information on their site, while mainstream media reported something wildly different – as happened in the case of the stoning of a 13-year-old-rape victim, Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow…..reported by the mainstream media as ’23-year-old woman stoned for adultery’!)

So, some people search far and deep for the actual information about what took place – and therefore they ‘get’ ‘both sides’ of a story….  You know, like the journalists of yesteryear used to do

That, however, does NOT mean that most people – who have other interests – have access to the same information!!!  NOT AT ALL!!!

Most people rely on the mainstream media (MSM) to bring the whole story to them.  Because they have no time or interest to sift through tons of information, they rely on the reporters and the journalists to do it for them and then present both sides!  Yet, both sides are hardly ever presented – most of our current crop of journalists were NOT taught in school to ‘report facts’.  Not at all.  They were taught to ‘report facts in a way people will ‘properly understand their implications’…  where ‘properly’ is dictated by the current intellectual elite’s pet point of view!

In other words, it is not that the caller is ‘smarter’ or ‘more clever’ than the rest of the population as this irritable journalist sarcastically implies.  It simply means he or she is more motivated to access non MSM sources and therefore has a broader baseline upon which to form a judgement!

But, let’s not be so dismissive of ‘everyone else’, either.  When ‘news’ is less and less informative and sounds more and more like preaching, even the uninformed get suspicious…

 

Update:  The radio host I mentioned in the post has some serious clarifications of his position, as he says I have misrepresented his views.  I have posted these in the comment section.  Please, take a few moments to read them.

4 Responses to “‘The Media’s’ perception of themselves”

  1. Louise Says:

    Something else I’ve noticed about the media (TV especially) is when selecting what they will cover, they seem to have only a few fixations, namely, dissing the government, especially if the government is right of centre or right of the media’s definition of centre (which is a big distinction), following a scandal ad nauseum, especially if it involves a young blond woman or a famous celebrity, and good news about itself. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing government. That’s an important part of their role, but I’ve noticed that since the Watergate scandal so many years ago, the media seems to be obsessed with uncovering a government scandal, and if they can’t find one, they create one, but if they see themselves as society’s watchdogs, there is so much more they need to do than just “watch” the government for us. We need to have all sides presented fairly and accurately so we can make decisions such as whether or not to support military action. It’s not their role to take a position on that themselves and then feed us whatever is needed to make us agree.

    Same goes for a lot of the “young blond women” thing. They are pandering to base voyeurism, at the expense of a whole range of other stories they could cover.

    There is very little attention paid to their role as information providers, being the folks would provide information on all the factors and all the angles needed for the citizen to understand his or her world. No wonder blogs are becoming the preferred source for so many of us.

  2. oo12oo Says:

    Where’s good men like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, etc…

    http://ontheseventhday.wordpress.com/

  3. sam222 Says:

    The so call mainstream, left wing news media have gone out of there way covering up facts and suppressing information to get elected Barack Obama.

    The good news is they have become much of a joke in the minds of many Americans.
    http://www.elinkfind.net/

    A Zobgy Poll shows that supporters who voted for Barack Obama didn’t know their candidate. In fact, they didn’t know much at all only what they get from the left wing news media.

    Here is a video
    http://sam222.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/voters-for-barack-obama-did-not-know-their-candidate/

  4. xanthippa Says:

    Here is a comment I received by email from the radio-host I mentioned in my post. (Since he had not posted the comment here, I am doing a straight ‘copy and paste’ from the email itself, nothing added or taken away.)

    I do agree that at calm times, he does qualify his ‘wrath’ – but leading up to the election, he perceived the conditions he lists as (a), (b) and (c) where they did not exist and as the ‘pitch’ heated up, he did drop any allusion to them altogether….perhaps he got a little frustrated. If he were to listen to some of the recordings of his show from those days, perhaps he would see that he did not follow his own rules, as he clearly thinks that he did.
    Xanthippa

    Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate that, and I think it’s great that you’re discussing this issue. I want to clarify a couple of points which you misrepresent in your comments about me, however.

    I have never said there is no bias in the media. In fact, I have said that all human beings are biased and that includes everyone in the media. I acknowledge that individual members of the media are biased and that the majority of them are biased toward the left. I have said this on the air several times. So when you say that I say “there is no such thing” this is factually wrong.

    When I disagree with callers, it is because they have raised the argument either that (a) there is an organized and deliberate attempt by media owners to produce a particular outcome (for example, in an election), (b) that the entire media, without exception is biased in one direction, or (c) that outcomes occur entirely or principally because of media bias.

    My response to these arguments is always the same, and as you point out I speak as someone with more than 20 years of experience in the media, sometimes in senior management, and much of it with some of Canada’s largest media corporations. First, the national media in Canada does not conspire to elect a particular party or cause the defeat of a particular party. Second, the leaders of media companies do not provide instructions to editors, reporters and broadcasters on a daily basis on how to spin the news to the benefit of a particular party. Third, there is clearly a broad range of voices available to consumers of media in Canada, including strong conservative columnists and talk-show hosts and a national newspaper with a conservative viewpoint. Fourth, while many people argue that the media in Canada opposes the Conservative party, almost every newspaper in the country endorsed them in the last election and almost as many in the previous election. And finally, there are plenty of examples, such as the 1992 referendum on the Charlottetown Accord, that show the public is independent and

    Media bias is very real. I have never argued otherwise. I simply don’t think media bias is as big a factor as people make it out to be. I think people make up their minds based on a range of influences, not just the media.

    Thanks for raising the issue. I hope you will clarify your comments to represent my opinions more accurately.

    Mark


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