“Just the facts, ma’am,” Joe Friday taught us.
The earliest visitors to this page last week will recall that I published a couple of photos of the construction work in progress on the former Switlik estate. I was asked to take them down to protect the new owner’s privacy.
Should I or should I not?
That essential question makes a nice jumping off point to consider how the Main Stream Media twists the news by not publishing it.
My friend “Rufus” started discussing “balanced” reporting. I now call him “Rufus” because I discovered I know too many people named Bob, Jim, and Jim-Bob. He observed that the published reports on auto sales included numbers for BMW, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Toyota, VW, and so on but none of the summaries had GM sales figures.
I believe, Rufus wrote, that there is a massive opportunity for a news organization to rise to pre-eminence by providing rigidly balanced reporting, and making sure it is clear exactly how the rest of the MSM is NOT, I suspect that they would pick up a pile of advertising support from businesses. WSJ is too clearly conservative and vested, and especially too much associated with big money and, well, Wall Street. It has to be someone else, and it can’t be a right-wing ranter. It has to be known for taking both sides to task and exposing their underbellies.
Tell me who decides what stories they “rigidly balancedly” report.
Tell me why you think they would pick up advertising support.
Advertisers go where the potential buyers hang out, Rufus. Advertisers pay the bills. Advertisers have almost no (commercial) interest in what programming they buy beyond the demographics of the audience.
There are some exceptions. Hallmark, for example, remains the producer and primary underwriter for the Hall of Fame which is, I believe, the longest running anthology program on television. Maybe the longest running program of any kind on television. Hall of Fame airs before holidays for the obvious reason. There has never been a downbeat program or one that glorifies bad acts.
So, Hallmark does control content. Many other companies won’t sponsor spokesmen who do crimes — the Michael Phelps bong kerfuffle illustrates that — but Rufus really needs only to look at the Nielsens for the news programs; the newsie advertiser list shows how little most sponsors care.
Taking the sides to task, see, that’s not reporting. Reporting is much more banal than that. Reporting has no agenda to take a side to task. 60 Minutes does that sort of “ambush journalism” and, other than Andy Rooney, I often do not like 60 Minutes. They do ferret out facts but they edit deeply to tell the story most likely to jack us up, not simply to publish the facts.
People asking for “balanced reporting” really want complete reportage of the facts of the story they want the media to carry and only that story.
Well, if there is information to bash and support both sides of an issue, Rufus wrote, that would be a heluva start.
See, that’s still opinion writing, not journalism. Just like science, there are no sides in journalism; there are only facts. A fact has no sides.
Stay tuned. Next up: the effects of not publishing some of the news and my application for a job with the White House.