It never fails. Someone gets in a discussion (yes, on Facebook. Where else? It’s where the fossilized stupidity of ages past has come to die and decay, forming a substratum not unlike oil, but far less useful. Well, unless you’re a blogger in need of post ideas.) about some of the latest misdeeds of the press, like say CNN’s bizarre pivot from all Russia all the Time to threatening posters for funny memes (Yes, of course I can barely resist the GIF posts when I see that. Unfortunately they take more time than writing.) and someone comes on and laments the days when the media was “objective.”
This is when I’d dent my desk with my head, except I have one of those standing desks that’s made of plastic which pops right back up. Good thing too.
I too would love the mythical times when kings were just, ordained by G-d and pulled the sword from the stone. They are as real as the days of “honest” media.
Look, take it from someone who went through journalistic training. EVERY good journalist (a minority as in all other professions) TRIES to be unbiased. This is relatively (but only relatively) easy when writing about the incident on first and main where a dog bit a man. It is far less convenient/easy when writing about a politician who embezzled something. And since politics touches everything these days, the result of the media’s obsession with makign the personal political, it’s becoming impossible to report ANYTHING objectively, including the dog/man incident. I mean, do you want to get mobbed by PETA? What about people who love leash laws/ What about the lobby to eliminate pit bulls?
Having training in journalism, and friends in the profession, I can tell you those “great” long ago times when all newspapers spoke with a unified voice, the narrative made sense and “everyone agreed” on what was sane and sensible, were anything but bipartisan, or impartial.
What they were was UNIFIED and totalitarian, in the sense that your entire media experience came from a very small number of people, who mutually vetted each other, and who had all been educated in the same colleges and believed the same things.
Two of the things most of them believed was that the purpose of journalism was to improve the world (not just to report news) by leading people in the direction of justice and peace, and all that good stuff that progressivism promised (but never delivers.)
In the days where to reach an audience you needed a newspaper gig, to step out of that line got you labelled a bad person or a right wing extremist with the same fervor that a gonzo group of women, men, all colors and shapes, and very definitely libertarian, if anything got labeled nazis, white supremacists and sexist and homophobic by the national press, when they dared question the holy science fiction zeitgeist.
So no one did.
I will not go into the several media misdeeds from that time of “unified” opinion. Ask any veteran about the Tet Offensive and the Vietnam betrayal by the media.
I’m simply going to say, like Heinlein did, at about my age, that I’ve never seen any event I was witness to reported with ANY degree of accuracy. In fact, often they are completely and insanely wrong. But the report fits the left wing “narrative” in which they are good and moral so there’s that.
Prior to the industrial era, and the unification of newspapers and the distribution of some of those throughout the nation, shaping the opinion of all the smaller wanna bes, media was gloriously, loudly, obviously biased.
Stands to reason. Being humans we can’t hope for “no bias.” No, listen to me, it’s impossible. My husband and I are as close as two human beings can be, and have been married for over 30 years. Yet if we both witness something and describe it, our different backgrounds and natures come to the fore.
So pre-mass-communications, each newspaper had its slant. And readers could choose to read in their comfort zone or out of it.
In the end, though, they knew what slant the paper had, which is the next best thing to the impossible “unbiased.” You can then discount the slant if you wish.
The new media is taking us there again, and it’s a beautiful thing. It means that dissident voices can be heard again, and those in positions of power have to be afraid of public opinion, even if they are anointed “progressives.” It’s the only thing that keeps the progressives in check.
Stop lamenting the days of “objective” news reporting. There was never any such thing. There was “unified” news reporting, which is almost for sure a give away that someone is playing with it. There is no such thing as an unbiased human being. There never was, there never will be.
Revel in the multitude of voices and perspectives. It means you’re more likely to be able to find out the truth.