Thursday, July 12, 2007

Main Stream Media and Objectivity

Paul Krugman once quipped that if the Bush administration was to say the earth was flat, the following headline would appear in papers across America the next day. “Views Differ on the Shape of the Earth.” Krugman’s point was this. For the MSM, being objective means being equally skeptical and critical of two sides of any “debate” and giving each side equal time. Viewpoints should not be judged only reported. Debate is nothing more or less than the presence of differing opinions. The problem with this is that it is completely at odds with our workaday notion of what it means to be objective, viz., the ethic that when evaluating opposing viewpoints that we apply the same set of standards to each. Being objective implies being judicious/judgmental. When two or more opposing viewpoints are found to have merit there is considered to be debate. Debate is much more than a mere difference of opinion. The consequences of the MSM media holding to this notion of objectivity are many and varied, but the most noticeable and commented on is the one Krugman hits on above. Specifically, being unwilling to pass judgment on the validity of particular viewpoints, the news often violates our workaday notions what it means to be objective and what constitutes debate. As a result, are left with the impression that we are down the rabbit hole and reason does not apply. The MSM coverage of the so called debate on global warming is great case in point as is the “debate” between creation science and evolution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An outstanding post. Now, if we could only have it as mandatory reading in the MSM...with debate to follow.
Im afraid the days of a sceptical, cynical eyed journalist has for the most part, given way to the doting pays better.