Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"It's Preferrable That People Know Where You're Coming From"

The "Objectivity" of the press was a lie fostered and used by Hearst to shove a shitty stick in the eye of his major competitor, Pulitzer. Hearst claimed his papers had it, and Pulitzer's didn't. It has NEVER existed except as a marketing ploy designed to give advertizers the appearance of NOT being allied with unpopular opinion. American media may not portray an obvious "political" bias (pace, Fox), but they all betray the same "economic" bias (pro business, pro-status quo), the political implications of which they are continually at pains to ignore, deny and/or conceal. What it conceals, of course, is the incredible narrowness of the range of acceptable opinion in the USer "press."

Here, NPR's David Folkenflik reports from Britain, where the pretense of "objectivity" is recognized for what it is. E.G.:
The Battle Of What Makes News

On the wintry day I visited the Houses of Parliament, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was taking questions from his foes in Parliament. It's a weekly exercise in public accountability and political theater.

Labor leader Ed Miliband accused Cameron of being out of touch with working-class Britons: "It's no wonder that today we learn the foreign secretary describes this gang as the children of [former Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher. It sounds just like the 1980s."

Cameron's retort was greeted with cheers: "Let me say this: I'd rather be a child of Thatcher than a son of Brown."

The exchange was in all the newspapers the next day with Cameron as the winner. Each had a distinct take:

The conservative Daily Telegraph said, "Time after time Mr Miliband hit a weak serve, trotted to the net in the hope of an easy volley, and was blown away by a merciless return from Mr Cameron."

Compare that with the left-of-center Daily Mirror's analysis: "David Cameron yesterday showed his true colours ... declaring his love for a woman who took the axe to industry, destroyed local communities, crushed unions and threw thousands on the dole."

Those are just a couple of examples that help illuminate what many see as a key difference between British and American media.

Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger argued that British papers give more room than their American counterparts to voices that challenge conventional wisdom.

"I think it's quite a striking thing about the British press that you get this polemical battle over the basis for what news is, which I feel is to a large extent missing in the American scene," Rusbridger says. "No judgments are free of ideologies, so who you choose to quote and how you structure stories are highly political judgments. I think that's the problem with trying to place too much faith in something called objectivity."

Rusbridger points to coverage of the push for war with Iraq in advance of the 2003 U.S. and U.K.-led invasion. He says British coverage was more skeptical of the justification for war because the range of acceptable opinions is far broader in British newspapers.
This was/is the first in a two-part series heard on the programme, "Morning Edition." The second installment, focusing on the USer press

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