Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Now That's NOT Entertainment

In this week's issue of Pressroom Buzz, Erik Gunn takes a look at the Juan Williams controversy.

In the article, he discusses the affect of opinions of new reporters on how they report the news.

He also hits on some old news facts, but in a way making it worth the read:

And talk radio hosts at WTMJ-AM and WISN-AM evidently suffer from no limitations. Last week, Charlie Sykes was heard openly plumping for a fundraiser for Leah Vukmir in her state Senate bid.

Of course, Sykes et al and their bosses will readily disavow the "journalist" label, at least when it becomes inconvenient, and hold themselves out as "entertainers" or "commentators." But are such distinctions really that clear to the public who views TMJ as the Journal Sentinel's radio station?

And then there's the constant refrain that the media are collectively biased anyway - to the left, if you're conservative, and to the corporate/conservative interests if you're liberal. In the aftermath of the Williams firing, Chris Wallace at Fox trotted out a series of instances that suggested other NPR employees had expressed strong opinions in other contexts.

There's no question that journalists have opinions, and that to some degree, those opinions are going to frame not only what stories they cover, but also how they cover them.

But I have a hunch that sometimes, maybe even often, journalists, aware of their opinions - and perhaps a bit defensive about them - either pull punches on stories that go after people or institutions of which they're actually critical - or pump up negative stories about people or institutions they actually agree with.

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